Growing up, I was the girl known not for her character, hobbies, or thoughts, but for her grades.
It was all my parents and teachers cared about.
I was constantly told that my test scores would determine my future, that poor grades would mean that I would never be successful or happy. So I spent hours and hours studying every day. I started preparing for my dream university at the age of 12, and I did everything in my power to meet my parents’ expectations, until my grades had become my only identity.
Here’s the thing about expectations: they don’t end.
Once you meet people’s expectations, people only go on to expect even more from you. Once you’re caught up in the cycle, you turn into a robot with no desires, no opinions—only duties to fulfill.
Eventually, I got tired. I was trudging through life, and I was desperately looking for ways to change. I decided to start with making more friends, and right about then I was assigned a seat next to one of the most popular girls in class.
I was extremely nervous. She was the girl who never paid attention in class and was always joking around; we were just too different to be friends. I thought sitting next to her would be the worst thing ever, but little did I know she would become one my favourite people in the world. She taught me some of the most important life lessons, helped me meet other great friends, and was with me during some of the best moments of my life.
To this day, I’m eternally grateful to her.
She taught me how to take risks and listen to my gut. I started doing things I found interesting, which helped me discover my passion for writing and love of nature.
She helped me become a stronger person. She taught me to live on my own terms and helped me realize that only I had the right to determine my self-worth, not some number on a paper or someone else’s image of me.
Finally, from the girl who didn’t have anything other than universities to talk about at the age of 12, I’ve become the person who voices her thoughts and opinions. I stopped paying attention to my parents’ expectations, or my reputation with teachers.
I stopped living on autopilot. I have finally found who I am and I couldn’t be happier.
I spent so many years trying to keep others happy, and let me tell you—it gets really tiring. It’s time we stop forcing ourselves to live up to society’s expectations. Let’s let go of the fear of not making enough money or not being “successful.”
Because money and success mean nothing if you aren’t happy with yourself.
Author: Aradhya Sharma
Editor: Nicole Cameron