When people say they’re disappointed in you, it’s because you’re not acting according to their expectations of you.
In most cases, these people’s opinions simply don’t matter. Live your life the way you choose to live it. I was trapped by my parent’s expectations and dogma for 30 years before I came to my rescue.
I knew as a teenager that what I wanted was different than what they wanted, but any time I stepped out of line, they put me in my place with that “disappointed in you” routine. I was disappointed in me too, but for opposing reasons. I hated not having the courage to be different—to be me. And I lived that way through college and into the first 10 years of my marriage.
It hurt to be me, and until the pain caused by betraying myself outweighed the pain and disappointment I would cause my parents by living true to myself, I remained trapped.
When I finally had the strength to break free from their expectations, I found myself and I found my happiness. Their disappointment in me hit an all-time low and remains there, but for the first time in my life, I’ve been able to look in the mirror and not feel shame and disappointment for living someone else’s life.
And for me, that freedom has been worth all the disappointment in the world.
“Who am I?”
“Who. Am. I?”
I ask myself this question far too often, and not often enough. Depending on my mood or the events leading up to my self-reflection, the answer changes.
When I’m feeling lost, helpless, and disconnected, I respond with, “I don’t know.”
I yell my name during moments of triumph and achievement. “I am Nolan Speaks!” In these moments, I know who I am, and there’s no stopping me.
This morning, I’m lost. I don’t know who I am. I know what I have to do, but my creator is stuck and feels like overeating and binge-watching Netflix. My consumer agrees. Those two bastards have been in cahoots since August.
Now I sit here thinking of ways to feel better, but I recognize that all my ideas are simply avoidance tactics, elaborate as some may be. It’s experience that tells me there’s only one way forward and out of this funk:
Not all the things, just some of them, starting with easy victories that help me regain my confidence. I need to start easy and gain traction over the coming weeks.
Experience also tells me that I habitually take on too much at once, and then retreat when it all comes crashing down, but not this time. I recognize where I went wrong. I learn from the past, I look forward to the future; I can figure this out. I can do this. I will do this.
I am Nolan Speaks! I know who I am.
Deep down each of us want to be accepted for who we are. You (hopefully) recognize your own flaws and shortcomings, and you (hopefully) recognize what you excel at and what makes you good. The good and the bad make you whole, worthwhile, and worthy.
You say, “I want to be accepted for who I am,” yet find yourself criticizing, judging, and praising others based on how you think they should behave.
You cannot expect others to accept you until you accept others. Let go of your need to be right—your need to control—and accept another person’s thoughts and feelings as valid. This is what holds you back.
The only path forward is to accept others as they are. In return they will accept you, and you will accept yourself. Be and let be.