I recently re-discovered Switchfoot. I know - not everybody's cup of mint-laced tea. Or cyanide-laced tea, whatever. Gotta love the almond flavour. Anyway, getting the derailment out of the way.
Switchfoot has a song called I Dare Your To Move. I kind of like the song. I won't say it is my favourite song, not by a long shot. But it is good and thought-provoking. They probably meant it to have bearing on living for more than yourself, and not settling for second best. And that is great. But I started thinking that it is more than that. If your parents were anything like mine, then you would have had a constant struggle with doing well enough. At school, university, wherever, I was always supposed to be able to do better. Hell, getting 85% average in my last year at school wasn't even good enough. They didn't expect me to actually do that well, I could tell. But even when I exceeded their expectations, they said "so why didn't you get 90%?"
As you can imagine, I am kind of screwed up because of that. I am scientifically inclined. I like to analyse requirements and meet them. Exceed them if I can. But how am I supposed to meet or exceed expectations that are so fluid? Not that that is the point of this post.
My point is this: what are your expectations for yourself? What do you expect from your writing? If you expect it to be excellent, it will be excellent because you will work had at making it excellent. If you think your writing will be mediocre, that is what it will turn out to be. Because you will work at it untill it meets your expectations. And that is where it will stay.
I have realised that it is my responsibilty to set my expecations where I want them. They don't have to be realistic. But "if you shoot for the moon, you may land on the stars." There's a reason why something becomes a cliché, by the way.
A final word on my academic exploits. After seeing the reaction to my high school results, I stopped giving a stinky rat's ass about my marks. I passed all my subjects the first time around. I studied hard but it stopped ruling my life. Why would I try my utmost to meet other people's expectations if it shifted all the time?
Other people's expectations of you can break you or it can help you gain the highest step. I was so blessed to hear how some friends of ours encouraged their daughter to do what she loved. She loves to write and they encouraged her to write. She recently won a national essay writing comeptition hosted by the US embassy in South Africa. She is 16 years old. She won the competition. She got to meet Mrs Obama, she is lauded everywhere as an awesome writer. I am so proud of her. More than that, I am proud of her parents.
I guess what I'm trying to say is be careful who you listen to. Some people have good intentions but bad execution. It hurts. But don't let that stop you from being the best you can be. If you are one of the really lucky ones like Carla, be very grateful that the people who surround you and have influence on you are encouraging you and building you up.
After all of this, I want to say one thing more: it does not matter if the people around you help you or harm you in your writing. Or in anything that you set your mind to doing. Your future is in your hands. If you don't work at it, nobody is going to do it for you. It's up to you. Take God's help and input. At least you can be sure that He has only the best advice.
I dare you to move. I dare you to go out there and live above the expectations people put on you. Even if those expectations are great, don't be limited by that. Set your own expectations. Go for it. Move.