A stern finger was shaken in front of my face for 12 years of school. They would say “don’t do this, don’t do that, this is the only way.” With little to no room to express and show inspired thoughts in the educational classroom, I was completely unable to fulfill my real potential towards a life of practicing inspiring success.
Because the use of expectations was a force to be reckoned with, I gave in, swallowed my pride, and did everything that was expected of me as a young student.
When you have plenty of expectations to uphold by your peers, which we all do, just remember that doesn’t mean you have to leave all sense of inspiration in the dust.
Flashback to 2011 and I’m sitting in a preselected chair, drenched from one of the heaviest rain falls of the year. As I had expected, it was raining on my graduation day. Graduation was supposed to be the time of smiles and Kodak moments, yet we couldn’t find any inspiration to crack a smile.
I turned my head, looked around for a bit and wondered if anyone else felt as miserable as I did. Row by row I could only see the familiar faces that matched that of disappointment.
“Everyone is expected to behave in a respectful, outgoing, and fashionable manor, knowing that this is your, well, only high school graduation. The use of an umbrella is not as important in this time of your life as receiving your diploma,” said one of the main graduation faculty members.
Initially, I questioned the school official’s expectation for disallowing the use of umbrellas during the graduation ceremony and at that moment, shivering, drenched by the very storm I was sitting in, I found no comfort in graduating at all.
I thought that this down pour was a metaphor for what life in education had become up until this point in school and what life was really going to be about after I finally graduated high school. How inspiring right?
On that day, seconds started to feel like endless minutes as my teeth chattered away. As for the rest of students stuck together in the exact same place, I would say they had become clearly restless and frustrated by the lack of timeliness in correlation to the weather conditions. We just expected the administration to take care of it but whether we liked it or not, we were going to get through this together.
Finally it came time to listen to the words of the most highly respected and at that moment, the most hated person at our school: our principal.
The traditional closing of our high school graduation speech commenced as the crowds of student voices began to shout out. At that moment, we as students didn’t want to be given some “inspiring” stern lesson on our future endeavors by “Mr. Clean Cut,” suit-and-tie principal. All we wanted was to be in a warm stadium enjoying the time with family and friends.
What really made this American cultural cliché so unbearable was the fact that he continued to speak as if it was not pouring rain. Then suddenly he realized the speech he had written was completely soaked in his hands. Before continuing he stopped abruptly, looked up, and laughed.
Some students were puzzled, some were frazzled. Then he moved the microphone from his face, and quickly threw his papers to the side and said, “Well, I’m sure we all get the point. Congratulations students,” and tossed his hat. This was obviously something I was not expecting at a high school graduation.
As a student body, we switched tassel from right to left and threw our hats up, hugging and laughing it out like it had never been raining. All of our fears, all of our obligations and all of our expectations didn’t matter in this one instant.
Finally we were all being honored for something, instead of being ridiculed for wrong-doing. We just felt accomplished with a little bit of inspiration.
I personally found more inspiration by the minor action this man was willing to do in sacrificing his speech than I did throughout the entire ceremony. In just three years time, I don’t think I would have ever looked back and said, “Hey, my principal’s speech was completely relevant and inspirational to what I am doing in college nowadays!”
Yet now I can honestly say, I learned a valuable lesson between the concept of expected acts and spontaneous, inspired ones, through simple actions like these. With so many expectations riding upon ourselves and outside influences, sometimes we lose value in the one thing that keeps us motivated: inspiration.
And that’s not to say it’s easy to become inspired, because sometimes it’s just not. But keeping in mind that these same expectations can often create a channel of unnecessary stress levels, finding a little bit of inspiration can be easily used as an outlet of stress-free living.
In my recent years, college has completely been about the exploitation of inspiration, while maintaining a respected level of what an ‘‘expectation” truly is. I can’t think of a time within the last three years of my college career where I wasn’t expected to do something.
The constant feeling of being micro managed by those around me has reflected in a loss of my own personal inspiration. You either do it their way or you are absolutely wrong when doing it your way.
While I complain about the feeling of being consistently overwhelmed with all the expectations around me, I also strive for the use of structure.
We can’t just stroll through life and pretend like there will never be anything riding on our shoulders, because that would just be too easy. In the beginning, all I ever wanted was for the inspiration to lead me, whereas now the roles have reversed and I am striving to lead the inspiration.
Find some inspiration and make it work because, well, this should be expected of you.