The greatest battle of all time didn’t happen in Troy, and it didn’t happen in the Normandy.
The greatest battle of all time happens right now.
The greatest battle happens inside of you.
It is you versus the world’s expectations.
The World’s Expectations
You and I have experienced the outer pressures of the world.
The expectation to marry someone. The expectation to go to college. The expectation to follow the crowd.
An expectation isn’t per se something bad. However, it turns into poison once you make the world’s expectation your own expectation. Once you make someone else’s world view your own, you start to look outside yourself for validation. You begin to doubt yourself. The feeling of being not good enough creeps into your heart.
“Dress like this, behave like that. Think like this, follow that.”
No, thanks. I’m good.
As the saying goes: “Check yourself, before you wreck yourself.”
Once you let go of what the world has told you what you are, you step back into who you really are. Your natural, beautiful authenticity.
The question remains:
How do we let go of society’s expectations?
Here is what helped me along my journey.
1. Strip down. Get naked.
Did you ever watch children play?
They express themselves freely. They dance freely. They laugh freely. They question freely. Children follow their bliss day in, day out.
Did you ever watch grown-ups play?
Seldom do I.
Grown-ups express what they think they should say. They stay stiffly. They doubt. They accept things as they are.
Seriously, WHAT HAPPENED?
Nothing speacial, a very natural thing.
Children are like sponges. Soaking the world in like sponges, the children took on one idea after another like clothes. And with every piece of clothing they took on themselves, the weight got heavier and heavier. Soon the weight felt burdensome. Soon we didn’t know anymore who we are, because all we saw were the layers we put on.
It is ok that you and I are slaves to others, because we soaked in ideas as we grew up like sponges. We picked up ideas from our parents, our friends, teachers, media. These became the ideas of what’s “right” and “wrong” for us.
Next time you express an oppinion or think of an idea – ask yourself where it comes from. Realize that most of your attitudes are not your own. Most of them are other’s attitudes that you keep on carrying through your life.
Whenever you spot an attitude or an idea about yourself or the world – question it. Ask yourself if you really are that bad at school, if you really are that shy of a person, if you really need to have a well-paid job to live a good life. Or if this ideas come from experiences you had which made you belief that you “are” bad at school, shy and have to have a well-paid job to live a good life.
Layer by layer you strip off that piece of clothing from you. And the more you do, the more you step away from the illusion of who you thought you were into the core of who you really are. That is how you free yourself. And once you begin to free yourself, you stop absorbing expectatios of the world and heal yourself.
2. Accept yourself
You have sides to you that are unique. Sides that some people might have said are great about you, others are weird to you. Own all of them. Stop fitting in.
To love and accept yourself is not only the greatest gift you can make to yourself. To accept and love yourself is the greatest gift you can make to others. When you are fully you, you allow people to be themselves, too. And there never has been a greater need to be ourselves in a world that tried to make us somebody else.
What is something about you that only you can do?
What is something about you that means something special to you?
Question your need to be popular. Because when you try to be popular, you stay at the mercy of other people’s judgement. You cage yourself in.
Stop trying to fit in.
As the great Krishnamurti once said:
“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Most people are born originals, but die as a copy. Stop being one of them. Be your original.
Be the gift that you are to the world. Own yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself.
To love yourself is to be courageous.
To love yourself is to be free.
Love yourself and you belong to the most free and courageous people will ever know.
3. Stop following the Crowd
It takes courage to be yourself. And it takes courage to love yourself. Which is hard because we so often still compare ourselves to the world’s expectations.
To stop following the crowd takes to start following your path. This path doesn’t go outwards; it goes inwards.
What helps to connect with who you are is to meditate a lot. Is to be in nature. Is to face your fears and transcend them. To build the courage to follow your path is to build an inner relationship with yourself.
4. Follow Your Heart
“I think, therefore I am.”
As important as the quote by René Descartes was for western civilization, as much it contains the damage we deal to ourselves by following the world’s expectations.
In the western world we are so much in our heads that we lost the connection to our body, our heart. We need to get in touch with ourselves again. To meditate, to be in nature, to travel and face your fears are ways to get out of your head and the routine that you were telling yourself all life long into a new story which lines lurk inside you.
To follow your heart is a risk, but it is a risk worth taking. You will experience pressure and may experience pain to follow your heart’s calling. But you will also experience much more pain and even greater resistance when you neglect to follow your heart. It is a much greater pain to die having lived a life that was not true to yourself than to dared to be yourself.
To not follow your heart is to leave the world having left your song unsung.
To follow your heart is to follow your bliss. And it is the best thing you can do to yourself, because that way you stop living to the world’s expectations and start living a life that is worth living for you.
Do something that matters.
Follow your bliss.
Have a wonderful day.