We all have them.
We have them for strangers, our family, our pets and even for inanimate objects or systems that we have no control of. We have the expectation that your car will get you from point A to point B. That your kids will get good grades, or that your dog won’t tear up the pillows while you’re gone. We expect that our societal systems work, like once you graduate college successfully you expect to find a good job.
Your parents, teachers, and siblings had expectations of you, too. Teachers mostly expected punctuality and respect from you. Parents probably expected your cleanliness, success, and respect. Your siblings probably just expected you to be there for them when they needed you.
Like everyone else in the world, these expectations applied to me too, but when I was in high school, I realized that people’s expectations for me were a little low. I could do so much more than what anyone expected of me.
So, I did.
During my Freshman year, I was expected to participate in the class’s biology lab, but no one expected me to use the lab as inspiration for a self-guided science project. I ended up being selected to move to the regional science fair held at the University of New Mexico. I won a first-place prize for exploring cardiac health in adolescents.
In my sophomore year, the class decided to do the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. Because we were balancing work for other courses, we were only expected to write 30,000 words, or 1,000 words a day. There was no expectation for me to double my final word count or to create a novel that was actually coherent even though it was written in only a month. No one expected me to try and get it published either.
In my junior year, I was required to volunteer for The National Honors Society, but no one expected me to create a full-on project around it. After realizing that recycling rates were really low in our schools, I worked with a group of my peers to put together a series of presentations aimed to educate kids about the importance of recycling. No one expected us to present to three separate schools either. Later that year, I also bought my first car in full, when my dad expected that he would have to help me.
Then, my senior year rolled around. I decided to do a self-guided Senior Project in which I identified a problem with loneliness in retirement homes. From there, I organized nights that would hopefully encourage the residents to socialize more. After volunteering at a bakery for three months so they would, in turn, teach me how to bake, I started my project. Twice a month for three months, I managed the logistics for these events and then made deserts for more than forty people each night. Even though I was doing my Senior Project, I also decided to participate in NaNoWriMo again and wrote my second novel.
Then, when my first car started having severe issues with the suspension in the front, my family didn’t expect me to take the initiative to go buy my second car either.
Graduation was a bit of a shock to me. The expectations on me changed from “turn in your assignment on time”, and “do your homework!” to “Do your job in a way that makes it easier for others to do theirs”, “make enough money to pay for the necessities.”, and “go to college.”
I took those expectations and quickly got promoted to the store manager at a local coffee shop when I was 18. The owner didn’t expect me to take on the challenge of bringing in more customers, but I did, and it worked.
After a while, I stepped down because I realized that I didn’t have the social skills needed to manage people yet. I went back to Starbucks. Here, people only expected me to show up to work, work well, and leave.
However, at this point, I had the expectation for myself that I would do more than that. I decided to become a barista trainer so that I could solve the issue of new employees being underprepared to do their job. When I identified a problem with communication in the store, I did something about it. This required me to take on a leadership role that I wasn’t necessarily being paid for.
But I knew that I couldn’t go to college. That was the expectation of me, but I expected myself to go above and beyond those expectations.
I was able to exceed everyone’s expectations with everything else or to break the mold that everyone else was being held into, so there had to be a way to do it with furthering my education too.
That’s why I choose Praxis. I’m breaking the mold by doing. Not by sitting by and waiting for opportunities to find me. I’m breaking the mold by taking people’s expectations of me and showing them that their expectations could be so much higher.