Unrooting Yourself From Expectations
On job applications, rejections, expectations, and TikTok
A few months ago, I downloaded TikTok, a video sharing application that is pretty similar to what Vine was like in its heyday. If I do say so myself, the first video I posted was incredible. I expected it to go viral immediately, my head filling with visions of sponsored content and fame. The reality of the situation is that my most viewed video on TikTok currently sits at 1400 views. For an app that has over 500 million viewers, this is most definitely not viral.
Not meeting my expectations of TikTok fame didn’t really cut too deep – however it did get me thinking about how difficult it can be when you don’t meet your own expectations. Which brings me to this article, which I’ve now been trying to write for a week. The idea of unrooting yourself from your own expectations can be really tough, particularly when you set the bar incredibly high for yourself.
I spent the last four years completing internship after internship after internship (you get the picture), alongside working at a radio station. I finished university a few months ago and I was ready for the job offers to begin rolling in. Turns out, the only thing I’m currently rolling in is rejection emails. Getting rejected is never easy, but it’s especially hard when the rejection means that you’re unable to meet your own expectations.
After about a month of job rejections, I created new expectations for myself. If I couldn’t get a job, I’d just become as productive as I possibly could. Anytime that I wasn’t at my part-time job would be spent doing things. Goodbye Netflix (and every other streaming service under the sun), I was going to be the 2.0 productive version of myself. I completely re-did my bedroom, spending about a week pulling apart and building new furniture. I cooked increasingly complex meals for lunch and dinner every day. I woke up at 7:30 am and just kind of vibed for a bit because I felt like waking up early was the productive thing to do. Between all of this, I wrote cover letter after cover letter, called potential bosses and daydreamed about what it would be like to finally have a job. After a couple weeks of being ‘productive’, it hit me that I wasn’t actually achieving anything, and I wasn’t feeling any better either.
Turns out, the only thing I’m currently rolling in is rejection emails.
My self-imposed expectations still felt like a heavy weight on my shoulders, and I still felt like a failure for not having a job yet. My new furniture looks incredible, but it doesn’t feel quite the same as working full-time (obviously). The biggest realisation however, came when I understood that by being super productive and trying to pack my days with as much as I could, I wasn’t actually proving anything to anyone. The expectation that I’d have a full-time job the second I finished uni was an expectation that I placed upon myself – nobody else was telling me I needed to get a job.
It was this realisation that led me to deciding I had to unroot myself, from any and all self-imposed expectations that were holding power over me. This turned out to be far harder than it was to pretend I was productive for a few weeks. The past few months have really taught me a lot about expectations, and the power they can have over us. As soon as I started to dig at these roots that were holding me down (did that pun work? I’m unsure), I could feel the weight being lifted off me.
I’ve realised that everyone is rooted in place by their own expectations. Having expectations is definitely important, however when we allow ourselves to feel like failures for not meeting said expectations – there is a bigger problem at hand. I will continue to hand in job applications and if all else fails – I always have TikTok.