If it’s one thing I know well. It’s meeting expectations.
Growing up I had a lot to live up to, a lot of ceiling to smash through and in the end a lot of that same achievement tossed back in my face. Or at least that’s how it felt on many occasions.
When I was 14 I made my dad get me a worker’s permit, so I could work my first job. It was a bullshit job, but a job nonetheless. I didn’t pay any bills, save up to buy anything spectacular, or give my paycheck to my parents. I wanted to work because school wasn’t in session. I was on the A and B honor roll and therefore, couldn’t talk my parents into letting me attend summer school. Working was my only way of not being home.
The problem with having a job at 14 is that you still have household chores to do when you get home. Chores that are supposed to be done by the time your parent’s are home, but since you’re walking through the door a half an hour apart from each other things can fall through the cracks. Which, meant I got in trouble a lot for not completing my list of things to do. Which meant on top of having a job. I was also grounded a lot and stuck in my room. Small wonder why writing is a past time of mine.
So as I got older I worked harder at school, straight A’s, clubs, just sitting in the lunchroom doing homework to kill time if I could. We all know how it works. There are always expectations when you’re a good student. Expectations when the principal of your high school hand selects you to be a face to represent the students that go there not just once but many times over and over. I represented my high school when I sat beside a member of the board at an education meeting that broadcasted on television. I represented my high school when I preformed poetry regularly in front of large crowds invited to tour our school. I represented my high school when I was interviewed for the Chicago Sun times.
The bar was set very high in high school. I don’t regret a moment of it and at the same time it was the most depressed I’d ever been. I didn't talk about things at home much. My parents had a very vague understanding of what I did. Unfortunately, if it wasn't a boyfriend or party I’d been invited to my parents weren't really involved or excited about it. In fact, I remember making up friends and conversations to tell my mother about so she’d be excited about my day. It was the only way to be interesting to her.
The night I won 2nd place in my high school talent show. I walked home alone, it was around half past 8 when I got home. My mother yelled at me because I wasn’t home to do my chores. Apparently my father was disappointed in me because I didn’t handle my responsibilities. So my trophy from that night has always been a bitter memento.
The night I took home eight metals from the academic decathlon, I walked home alone because my parents had gone to a party. When I came home I left the medals out for them to see, even tried calling them to let them know. That night didn’t end well for me either. This time I was yelled at for not being with the family. That my stupid club was more important to me.
Needless to say I stopped expecting the pat on the back form my parents. Instead I hung up every award I got on my bedroom wall. If they weren’t going to acknowledge it I was. Because I put in the work. I put in the time and I’d be damned if I kept throwing everything in a box. With every award, medal and trophy … came more expectations not from mom and dad. This time from family. Aunts, uncles, and my grandmother. I have a very large fan club. Oh yeah I brag about it now.
When it came to college my parents told me I had two options. Go to college. Or be disowned.
Naturally I went to college. And that was when the ceiling fell and I became buried in rubble. My parents wanted a college student with a high school student’s life style. They wanted me to live in a dorm, but still complete my chores. To take college classes and pass but spend all my free time at home. It was a rude awakening for all of us. I was kicked out of the house numerous times, called a lot of names and put through the ringer on lesson after lesson about respect and everything they gave me.
Then I graduated. I moved out. And I’m free. Ask me what I think about expectations now?
It’s my life. Go fuck yourself.
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