Whether you’re starting your first year at U of T or your fourth, there will always be expectations surrounding what you should be doing starting September. For me, pressure from my family and even from some friends is already slowly starting to build up. As September approaches, I’ve decided to reflect upon what expectations mean to me.
It’s never easy for me going into something with high expectations, especially when these expectations come from others. I always give everything I do my best effort, but sometimes that hasn’t been enough. Early in life I learned to give myself reasonable goals, but this wasn’t necessarily the case for the people in my life. They would sometimes expect more from me than I knew I was capable of. While at first I didn’t know how to deal with this, I quickly learned that a sincere and genuine conversation would help me fix it. It allowed me to share with those who care about me what my goals were, and how I could reach them or ask for help if need be.
When I started university, I decided to have this conversation with my parents. I came to university expecting to follow theatre, and it wasn’t until my second year that I decided on something quite different. This was confusing for my parents, but it was for me, too. I definitely had to make some adjustments, but now I love what I study. I had to remind myself that it’s okay if my plan needs updating.
And, expectations are not always academic. I remember how many expectations I’d set for myself without even noticing. Seemingly small things such as hoping to meet all the people in my classes, or maybe talking to some professors. These didn’t turn out to be as easy as I thought they’d be, and instead of considering my plan a failure, I decided to start off with smaller goals.
Becoming aware of the expectations I set for myself is usually the hardest part. It makes me realize that I think of myself as someone extremely capable, which is typically a good thing, but it becomes harmful when I fail to accomplish things. I used to be scared of failing, but I’ve grown to accept it. When something doesn’t work out for me, I look back and think of where I went wrong and how I can improve for next time. Coming back to school is not always as fun as we want it to be, but we have to remember that things are hardly ever “perfect” and that it’s okay to make adjustments, even if it takes you a while to figure them out. Don’t be too hard on yourself if something doesn’t turn out as planned, you have your whole life to try again!