Great Expectations

Do you ever wonder if we're doomed to be crushed by the weight of our expectations? What we expect from ourselves, I mean.

As far as I can recall, nobody specifically came down with a couple of forms bearing an official-looking seal and said, "You... with the long name, you're destined for greatness, so shape up and all that, you have some serious work to do."

Nope, can't say I remember that happening. I don't know if it's happened to anybody for sure, but I think I can safely say that it's unlikely.

And yet.

We continue thinking that we're somehow meant to be up there, with the big ones, that one day we're going to be mentioned in the same breath as Hemingway and Wilde and, I don't know, Marquez or someone. And we watch in rising frustration as anything of the sort stubbornly refuses to happen.

What the hell is going on, we wonder, didn't anybody get the memo? I'm supposed to be huge by now, and not in terms of waist-size either!


And while we plod along in our day jobs, not quite hating, but not quite loving our existence either, we begin to wonder if this is all there is to it. If we'll end up just as our mothers and fathers did: with decently-raised children and a twenty-year EMI on a house we can't properly enjoy till we're retired from the job, that takes half our lives and most of our will to live.

Will I be considered a waste of talent, we ask ourselves. As someone incredibly gifted who ended up living a cookie-cutter life, which could have been, should have been, so much more.

I think the real question to ask is: by whom? Fifty years from now, who do you think is going to care that you didn't win the Nobel Prize or the damn Bharat Ratna? And how incredibly arrogant are you, that you think someone apart from you will?

If you choose contentment over ambition, it is your choice. Whether it is a burden to bear for life or an act that sets you free from the straitjacket of your own expectations, depends on what you do next.



Comments

PV said…
It was quite a shocking moment when I discovered I didn't actually want to be ambitious. It was one of those things that was just...assumed. Then again, ever since I realise that it's not necessarily an option, I have the say the contentment is quite lovely.
R said…
Hell yes. Darn. I grew up thinking I'm the next Woody Allen, you know? I am not even making films with my digital camera - not even scripts in advertising anymore. Poop.

Er, anyway, I hope you choose anything but contentment because you are meant to be up there with memorable names. Now I'll go and feel awkward because I try not to say nice things to people. But you know what I mean.
Vini said…
Exactly my sentiments in the whole mediocrity Tree-moment thing I have going-on, albeit slothfully, on my blog. The fact that there are hundreds of people who are mediocre and don't know it and are living absolutely content lives, and then there are other people who are mediocre but always on the edges of greatness - so you are aching to do the next big thing, you can look into that elite pool and undestand exactly what it takes, but you are just that little step shy of stepping in.
Nothing personal on the mediocre bit. I mean it in my context. And you know what makes it worse? Everyone harping about how you can so be 'IT'.
Ok, full-stop on the rant.

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