Societal Expectations: Dynamics and Doubts

Leader,Idea Genre Squad

Society and Expectations:

An individual is embraced by the society at their birth. Society shapes the person, personality, thought process and the whole being of a person. Some argue that there is no existence of a person outside the social realm without people, relations and interactions. Society gives individuals identity and a place to belong. However, there is always a price to pay for whatever the person gains. The price which is imposed by society on individuals for social identity is social expectations. Expectations work as catalysts in the life of a human and they help humans stay sane as expectations and hopes are intertwined together. But social expectations from individuals are marked by a specific timeline, potential threats in case of failure, expected competence to handle the unexpected situations and expectation of conformity to social norms and values. Therefore, expectations burdened by so much social luggage become a back-bending pressure for individuals and cause them to lose their independent individuality and desires.

Impacts of Societal Expectations:

  • Expectation disorders:

Social expectations have a direct relation with mental stability of a person. The higher the level of expectations from a person in a society, greater are chances of him being mentally troubled. This is also one of reasons that in most families, the eldest child is a perfectionist, quiet, hardworking and responsible person who generally does not engage with others because they silently struggle with expectation pressure. Anxiety and depression are the most prominent impacts of social expectations. They are also termed as “expectation disorders”. 

 Depression settles in as the individuals try to follow the path laid out by society and the social path does not match their natural skills. The person is forced to pursue medicine when their innate talent resides in visual art or pressured to opt for technical subjects when they have business temperament. The separation from passions to follow the social trends inculcate a sense of hollowness and the person falls into the abyss of depression. The academic expectations are just one face of how society wants to dictate the individuals but there are various other dynamics to it from society’s standard time to get married or to get a degree or a job. Society sets a timer for every task and this timeline, which is supposedly the parameter of measuring the success of a person’s life ticks like a bomb on head of individuals. These timelines make them feel like machines and they feel like they are being chased by the time limits. This makes them anxious and anxiety drains all their enthusiasm, creativity and energy and leaves them empty like a shell.

  • Gender stereotypes:

One other dynamic of societal expectations is gender stereotypes. Society draws its rules about the jobs and roles of individuals based on gender. On the one hand, men are supposed to be good with sports and technology. They are expected to be emotionally and mentally strong to handle sadness or any other crisis without any hint of emotions which is termed as “weakness” by society. Men are supposed to be breadwinners for the family. While on the other hand, women are expected to stay at home and do domestic chores. Women are expected to be fragile and therefore required to stay away from sports and physical work. The society’s definitions and limitations suffocate the individuals who find themselves with talents and passions that are considered inappropriate for their “gender”. The inability to express their true selves makes individuals suffer from identity crises where they live with identities bestowed by society on them. However, if anyone defies societal norms and stereotypes, they are labeled as weirdo or rebel. They suffer from isolation and abandonment in society which destroys their mental well-being. 

  • Social expectations:

Society is formed by the interaction of people when they come together at the same place. It is natural that every person in society is expected to be eager to make friends and develop their company. The definition of a “good fellow” in society always includes the requirement to be friendly, smiling and incredibly talented at something. Society likes extravagance. Therefore, extroverts are popular in society. However, this behavior makes quiet people who are shy at readily starting a conversation feel like outcasts. It’s one of the reasons why people begin to doubt themselves, and struggle with their self-esteem, and self-worth. They begin to unconsciously feel that they too are not living up to what is expected which ultimately makes them more socially awkward. 

Coping with Societal Expectations:

In a nutshell, society has standards for every phase and part of an individual’s personal and social life; from dress code to gender role, from educational choices to marriage standards, from job demands to friend circle and so on. The pressure to conform to societal values at one stage or another destroys the mental peace and personality of a person. A person cannot live in isolation. To live in society is a necessity but to protect one’s own interests and passions is the personal duty of every person. 

  1. The impacts of societal expectations can be lessened by self-comprehension. If a person truly understands themselves, they can take a stand for themselves and can carve their own ways by convincing the society. 
  2. The pressure of societal expectations can be coped through by devising your own expectations for yourself. A person is best understood by their own self. To shield yourself from timelines of society, you should decide your pace and speed of goal achievement. Decide your pace without overestimating your potentials or underestimating them. By being honest to yourself, you can protect your life from unrealistic and general demands of society.  

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