How Harmful are Societal Expectations?

Mikaela Ponce

More stories from Mikaela Ponce


Every society has expectations and unspoken rules that demand to be followed. Drinking coffee, tattoos, piercings, and swearing are just a few of the things that are looked down upon by society. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole other level of other’s life that people are expected to follow, and it’s looked down upon if you don’t follow them.

“It’s so looked down upon to chase your dreams because there are all these expectations that people have on us that we will fail if we feel like we want to do our own thing,” stated Aaleiyah Laumua, dreamer and achiever.

Aaleiyah describes the expectations as a checklist. People are expected to first graduate from high school, then go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If they don’t go on a mission, or if they do, they are then expected to go to college. Once that is all done, they should be married and have a successful career.

The reality is, everyone’s life is different. Some may get married later than others, some may not get married at all. Some might graduate from college in four years, some might graduate in six. No one’s life is the same, no one’s going to go through the exact same thing, therefore no one can complete the same checklist.

These expectations can become very overwhelming, taking a serious toll on a person’s mental health. It could be seen as a potential cause of depression and anxiety. Also, if these expectations are not satisfied, the reaction from others can be harmful.

“It’s definitely harmed me…I felt like I wasn’t good enough to even be put on a checklist. I wasn’t good enough to receive those expectations because I wasn’t living it. To me, that was detrimental,” shared Aaleiyah on her own experience with dealing with these expectations.

Some people can take it harder than others, so it’s better to proceed with patience and kindness.

Aaleiyah finds the cure to the negativity from these expectations in doing what she wants to do. Following her passion for teaching dance and life lessons to the kids in the community.

“I see many kids come in, and my calling in life is to empower these individuals to continue to be creative, to continue love, continue to serve, be kind, work hard, be smart. All these things the world misses, they don’t tell them that.”

However, expectations aren’t all bad, they are set in place to help us reach our full potential. People see something in us that we may not even see in ourselves, they see us hitting the bar and going beyond, so they set these expectations to help us get there. We set expectations for ourselves to help push us to become the type of person we want to be. Expectations are what motivate us to do better than our best. To stick to our goals and continue to strive to become that person that we know we can be.

When we complete these goals and fulfill those expectations, we can look back on our lives and look at how far we’ve come. How much we’ve achieved and improved as a human being. There’s a sense of pride as we realize we became the person we’ve always wanted to become.