Where did this expectation come from?

A really weird thing has been puzzling my brain lately and it’s about expectation. I think it’s popped in there because I’m nearing my 32nd birthday, I feel old and young at the same time and I’m probably even more directionless than I was at 22. Sure, at 22 I was just finding my feet in terms of a job and I was still living at home, dating a guy I knew I didn’t want to be with and wishing something, anything would change. Now I’m nearing 32, I’m much more confident, (in some ways) I have a better job, a MUCH better BF and a house to call my own…but I feel even more lost than I did before.

At 22 I felt the burden of expectation, I had big ideas and grand plans for my future, I was going to make it. What “it” I was going to make was a little hazy, but I knew I was going to get there. I was comfortable with my discomfort, I needed it to get me out of bed every morning and I wanted to live up to all of the expectations I had placed on myself.

Now, I question whether I was trying to live up to my own expectations of myself or the expectations others had, that I took it upon myself to live up to. Most of the decisions I made were made by carefully weighing up which boxes I could tick in other people’s minds if I did certain things. I made almost no decisions because I felt that gut-wrenching urge to do something. When I look back on that time now, I realise that I probably failed in delivering on the one expectation I’ve always had of myself; living honestly.

If you fail to do what’s true to you, over the years you’ll find yourself becoming more and more enslaved to the expectations of others. Personally, I believe that sometimes people break down when they have the epiphany that actually they can choose which expectations to live up to…but they realise this so late that they crumble under the pressure of change. At 22, I was bumbling around making erroneous decisions and ignoring what my intuition was telling me but I never worried about the consequences because I knew that I could change things at any moment, and I was sure I would.

Today, I can’t even hear my intuition. I’ve buried it so deep that I’ve almost completely lost it. Sometimes I meet a person and it shouts at me, a strong warning that I don’t need that individual in my life, but other than that, it seems to be speaking a different language. So I’m directionless. I don’t even have the direction to ignore in favour of other people’s expectations, all I have is my adopted set of expectations and the awkward feeling that I’ve gone wrong somewhere. On paper that’s not the case but the endless babble sitting in that void in my core tells me otherwise. But I’m nearly 32 now. I have a mortgage. I have a dog. I have a significant other to consider. I don’t know what the rules are and whether I can break them yet; the expectation seems to be that you need to have midlife crisis for that to become permissible and that just doesn’t sound like something people would expect me to do.