Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Adopt: choose to take up, follow, or use.
Let’s talk about Adopted Expectations. Let that term roll around on your tongue for a minute because all of us ladies, aware or not, have been affected by this term. It is born out of a mythical measure of accountability we’ve been evaluating ourselves against for ages. Generations deep… seriously ya’ll, it’s in our DNA.
We’ve been marching though life on a path that includes managing a household, a career and, for many of us, raising children. Partnered or not, every women’s journey has it's own challenges and I will not discount the trials of any woman. The struggles we women encounter have many faces. We live in a society where we often don’t even have time to look up to see how everyone else is managing but when we do, it sometimes feels like we’re not measuring up.
The house never seems neat enough. We wonder if we’re raising our kids right. Who says we’re “supposed to” have children or, for that matter, get married? There never seems to be enough time for “FILL-IN-THE-BLANK”. What the hell is work/life balance? At least once or twice we have an identity crisis, realizing we’ve completely strayed from who we “once were” and wonder if we are still her and, if not, who did we become? And when….just WHEN, did we have time to realize, digest and begin to figure out these things?
In my own life, I strived to do “All The Things”. My younger self was wound up in a flurry of milestones, action items, sometimes missed objectives, and peer reviews. And I’m not just talking about work. I tried so hard. I gave at least 110% of myself. Looking back, it almost feels melodramatic and it’s exhausting to recall, but that’s REAL LIFE. Social media wasn’t around back then so I cannot imagine the pressure that would have added. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really started to examine all this with a wiser pair of eyes and ears. I hear myself in the stories younger women share about places in their lives that I’ve since passed. I see future me in older friends entering retirement.
What’s become incredibly clear is the questions we grapple with are born out of the acceptance of Adopted Expectations. We absolutely unknowingly have adopted the expectations of society and societal perceptions, of men, the norms of generations before us and our own misconception of what other women are experiencing.
Remember, our mothers and grandmothers grew up in eras where we were dutiful partners with our place in the home and, more often than not, with far less of a voice than a man. We are not so far off from days when certain things were kept hush-hush like a teenage pregnancy, a husband’s affair, the abuses a woman endured, and marriages that lasted too long because our caretaking role and lack of education left us with limited career choices. It’s NOT to say we are necessarily subjecting ourselves to this now but it is definitely in our DNA to not speak up for ourselves… or to, quite frankly, even be aware we have a voice at all or that our voice matters.
We have so very, very often put everyone else and their needs before us and our own needs or desires. Let’s be real, how many of us — except in perhaps an act of occasional rebellion — will just tell our kids, partners or both that we’re too sick and (or maybe just decided) we’re checking out completely? And even if we did, we’d almost certainly follow through in cleaning up all the things that fell through the cracks when we got well or "came to our senses". And probably without much thought …because we, and everyone around us, are simply acting out the adopted expectations we have been born into. And when we do this, we are continuing to cultivate those expectations for others and for future generations.
They are adopted expectations because we came into this world absorbing the way it’s always been. It’s an indoctrination….just an unspoken contract held over from some other time that we unwittingly agreed to by default, but we have the power to change that.
And please don’t take this as man-bashing because men too have adopted expectations and roles they’ve been handed down. I’m just talking to the ladies right now. We need to let go of the need to blame or rage about it. We simply need to wake up and reclaim our power with grace and strength of the divine feminine. I like to think that Warrior Goddesses are creatures of great dignity and love.
We’ve created a world so filled with doing “All The Things” that we don’t have time to explore ourselves or find out what we need for personal happiness. Words like “self-love” and “self-empowerment” generally hit the radar when things are crashing down around us. We wonder how did we miss out on being actively aware of these concepts? How did we overlook care of ourselves? It’s also at this time that we suddenly realize the value of female bonds. When I was a young mom I didn’t have a lot of strong female connections. Sure, I was a mom among moms doing mom things, all of us so caught up in our own worlds but we certainly weren’t connecting. For myself, I thought I could manage it all and I also lacked trust in women so not only did I not know how to reach out, I didn’t want to. I am also seeing this outcry among friends entering retirement. There is a longing for day-to-day interactions because we are not prepared for the sudden solo experience. Once again, we are faced with finding self, not knowing how to spend our time, or even being aware of what we enjoy doing. For some, this can also be the first realization of and exploring the concept of valuing self.
One thing is certain: Transitions and awakenings don’t come with warning.
At no age are we immune to adopted expectations and the outcome is that we don’t know how to navigate and understand our feelings. And how can we when we lack connectivity? We need to remember the value of community, of tribe, and of female bonding.
In this day and age, I feel like women of all ages lack connectivity and female support. And we are afraid to ask for it. I know from my own experiences that having same gender support is so very important to the success of personal growth. For most of my life I struggled with that distrust for women. It was a stretch and a personal challenge to create a women’s group and really allow myself to be vulnerable in my writing, thoughts and discussions. In the early days, every time I would post I would immediately have an anxiety attack feeling because I feared “being seen.” Time and continued connection has allowed my to feel comfortable and flourish through authentic sharing.
The power of women gathering and supporting each other allows for emotional openness and the realization that our vulnerability IS our strength. Let’s remind each other of our beauty, worth and power. Let’s gather and connect, support and share so that we can break the patterns that adopted expectations have obligated us to for so long.
If any part of this message resonates with you, I invite you to please consider joining me for a small group weekend women’s retreat. The next two are in the Spring of 2023!. We’re going to be talking about: letting go of old stories, trusting our Intuition, creating Flow in our lives, self-compassion and Growth Mindset. It's time to empower yourself......You matter!
Registration is open NOW!. Register early and receive a $100 discount on the total cost. I'd love to have you join us!