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Expectation equals frustration

What to do when everyone wants a piece of you?

india Updated: Feb 28, 2010 02:24 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times

Have you ever felt bogged down by expectations from everyone around you? A feeling which always keeps you on the edge for fear of disappointing someone you love?

Well, a close friend is feeling that way these days and insisted that I talk about it in the column this week. The stress of not being able to come upto the standards expected of you by those who matter — I’ve seen almost all of us go through this stress sometime or the other.

As a child, it’s what the parents and teachers expect, as a young adult, peers, and as an adult, the spouse and kids.

‘But that’s what life is’, you may turn around and say. And you are right. But what’s worst about this stress is that with each stage of life that you pass, the expectations of one group do not get replaced by the other’s; they just get added on.

When you get married, for instance, what your parents expect of you gets added on to what your wife or husband now wants from you — in terms of time, attention and a certain behaviour.

So, in the quest to find out how people around me deal with the burden of expectations, I decided to ask some of my colleagues at

HT City

to share their mantra. This is what they came up with.

Neha in my team thinks that the biggest mistake she makes is to try harder and fulfil unrealistic expectations of others. “I keep trying harder and harder. But that makes the stress worse. It is best to know your own limit-point, beyond which you can’t stretch or you’ll break,” she says.

Another colleague Aroma, when faced with a barrage of expectations, just locks her room up and does deep breathing. “Interaction of any kind with those who are giving me stress just makes me hyper,” she says.

The seemingly calmest person in the team, Chetna, has a cool trick up her sleeve. “I fake happiness in front of my source of stress. This is my way of secretly torturing the person who’s taken my peace of mind as they wonder why I’m not miserable,” she says.

Rahul from my team has a more ‘mature’ answer when he says, “Normally, I try to push myself hard for people who matter to me. But if I feel someone’s demands of me are unreasonable, I confront them and tell them that I’m doing my best and they should accept me as such.”

While Rajesh says his calmness mantra in the face of expectations is to try and ‘prioritise’ so that everyone is happy,


comes up with this gem: “Everyone says they want you to be happy. But what they don’t say loudly is that they want you to be happy — ‘the way they want’. I love myself selfishly. So if someone expects too much of me, I just tell them to back off. Because I’ll be able to love them only when I love myself.”

The last word goes to RP Singh, who drives me to work everyday. “Madam, vaise toh my family does not expect much from me. But when there is problem, I don’t fight. I go alone to a park or Gurudwara. Then I tell God — ‘you have given this tension, now you give the solution’.

To each his own. I would say take a deep breath, put some music on, grab a glass of wine or a steaming mug of coffee, close your eyes and thank God for having given you people in your life who expect something from you. Better than not having anyone who cares. No?

Sonal Kalra has told her friends and family not to expect anything from her. If they love her, they’ll surely not let her down. Right? Mail your calmness tricks to her at