This word has been on my mind for the last few days and I’ve been thinking it through and about what it means to me.

I feel like all my life I’ve been trying to live up to, deal with, and sometimes fight expectations that are real and stated to me though most of them have been unspoken and probably were never real to begin with.

It was busting an expectation almost six years ago (April 30, 2015 to be exact) that put me on the road I am now. On that day, I busted an expectation that I wasn’t allowed to make a simple mistake even though I’m human even though I fixed my mistake and set everything right. I didn’t say this out loud but in my mind, I felt the snap as I called it then and have been incredibly grateful for it ever since.

One expectation I have struggled for many years is the expectation I should only be miserable and wrapped up in anxious bullshit. This came from being told that I shouldn’t be happy about something when my life was so full of shitty things going on. The expectation I felt for me was I was to only focus on the shit and not on anything else. I felt like there were people who didn’t want me to be happy at all because they felt like I didn’t deserve that because I had a specific role to play and if I smiled I was breaking character.

My late father used to say, “You don’t have to walk around feeling sad and sorry for yourself all the time. You have the right to be happy.” That statement comes to me whenever my mind tries to wrap itself up in sad-and-sorry for myself. There’s an expectation in our world, both spoken and unspoken that says if people are in misery they should stay that way and focus on working their way out of it. This nose-to-the-grindstone or endless hustle in modern parlance is wrong because it stifles joy and happiness, which is a much-needed respite from pain and misery. Feeling guilty for happiness in the face of misery is a universal human condition, one I believe is born from mean-ass people who deserve to be told to take their shit and shove it back up their ass where it belongs.

For so many years I felt like I had to hide my feelings from the world both good and bad. I felt like the expectation of me was I wasn’t allowed to show any feelings at all unless someone deemed them acceptable. I lived to other people’s expectations for far too long. But the good news now for me is this: that’s burning away like frost on a roof under a hot sun.

We live and labor under expectations but I have come to believe the most important one is what we expect of ourselves. And that expectations for ourselves are really our goals and dreams, hopes and fears. This is why I believe in what I am committed to writing about this year, the breaking of silence once and for all. The first thing that I use to break my silence is this:

You have every right to your thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And you have the right to deal with your thoughts and feelings in any way you chose to, including in silence.

I can’t say that enough and I won’t stop saying it. I also tell myself this when I a breaking silence, the thought that came to me on that day in April 2015:

Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am, but I’m not a bad person either.

I don’t have all the answers and neither does anyone else. And we never will. That’s okay because life is an endless quest for answers, for truth, and for me, a way to think and feel without restraint.

I believe in expectations of good, of kindness, and hope. I believe in expectations of truth, honesty, and justice. But I also believe in the expectation that we can learn by doing, and by living.

My goal now is not to live to the expectation that I can’t find joy and happiness, or that I can’t follow my own path because I must give all my energy to alleviating my misery. I can only do what I can, and what needs to be done. Once that’s over, I can move on to other things, including things that make me happy, like writing for example.

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