The Curse of Expectation

Pink Super Moon
Tom Duffin Photographer @weePhotosEdin

It is just gone three in the afternoon.  My mum is in our back garden soaking up the heat.  My dad is cleaning and vacuuming after our late lunch, and I have just sat down to write this post.  It’s an average day in our household. 

I moved back home a few years ago and I am now living with my parents. I must admit I quite enjoy being at home with the folks.  I am actor and before #Lockdown happened, I would often travel into London for the day or be working away on some other project.  I would see my folks in the morning for a cup of chaa and a chat.  Then on my return, if I wasn’t working away, we would catch up over another chaa, and then settle in for dinner.  On the surface it all seems quite simple and hassle free. We converse, we argue, we debate.  We are friends, guardians, confidants and each other’s counsel.  I am grateful to have my parents; we enjoy each other’s company, and then…

In walks Covid-19. I am now on the verge of ruining my relationship with my parents and ultimately with myself.  Here’s how… 

UNDER A MICROSCOPE

Last week we witnessed the pink Super Moon.  There was a huge shift in energy, and I woke up feeling out of sorts.  I couldn’t move and communication was not high on the agenda.  I am usually downstairs by 9am and my parents have now come to expect this lockdown routine from me.  However, on this day I wanted to stay in my head and my body wanted to stay in bed.

Still, I dragged myself out of bed, got changed under duress and headed down to Asda to collect our pre-ordered shopping.  I went with dad. Bad idea.  I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and everything was irritating me.  Dad asked me a simple question in the car, and I bit the poor man’s head off.  We drove home without speaking, and in silence we put the shopping away, together.  You could cut the atmosphere with a knife and I didn’t have the words to put it right.  There is nothing worse than feeling off kilter, having upset your father and then both mum and dad asking me if I am alright.  Don’t get me wrong, their unconditional love, care and attention does not go unnoticed but, right now, I am struggling to find the space to feel my own thoughts and emotions.

Everything seems to warrant an explanation.  A laugh at naughty text from my partner, a sigh at an email, or a cry of frustration at having to learn a new script because the old one has just been scrapped.  Sometimes there is nothing to tell because it’s a shit joke, and other times I just want to be private.  My parents are not nosey or controlling – they are just interested.  But for me, lockdown is slowly encroaching upon our individual space and privacy. I am failing to express how I am feeling and that I just need a little space, to be alone.  Oh, the irony.

Oyyy… FIX UP LOOK SHARP!

I love chilling in baggy jumpers, joggers and big socks.  I love mooching around in my pjs and bathrobe.  Sometimes, I don’t even shower, but I’ll always brush my teeth and wash my face (I have some standards).  Usually on my days off this mostly goes unnoticed.  Now, my mum is old school.  She dislikes all that baggy student clothing and is always telling me “haath moo tha dholah”, which literally translates to “Hands, face, wash. “It looks respectable” She tells me, “And you’ll feel better.”

Mum is right, and I get it, but do I really need to ‘look respectable’ whilst at home? During Lockdown?  Mum lifts herself up by applying a little lipstick.  I apply a stroke of mascara but drive a hard negotiation to stay in my pyjamas.  At this stage, I should point out that I am a woman over the age of 35.  Lockdown is slowly chipping away at my ability to behave with dignity and integrity towards my parents and possibly myself.

THE CURSE OF EXPECTATION

During this lockdown, we have all made all kinds of promises to ourselves: to do better, to be better and to feel better.  We are dedicated to keeping ourselves busy and upbeat. That’s great! And we should, if we feel it. But what about on the days when we don’t feel it?

I made a promise to read more.  I set myself the challenge of a book a week.  That should be easy for someone who loves reading.  I started out with the enthusiasm of a cake fiend needing a sugar fix.  First up, Raja Shehadehs ‘Going Home, A walk through 50 Years of Occupation‘ I am led through the beautiful streets of Ramallah, enthralled by the spirit of the Palestinian people as they stand defiant in the face of Israeli occupation. I get to page 83 and then suddenly a news bulletin beeps on my phone…

Edinburgh’s August Festivals CANCELLED due to Coronavirus” 

This year would have been my third year working in Edinburgh for the summer.  For many of us creatives it is the highlight of our year. Something to look forward to. The city is alive with theatre, music and literature. My favourite is the Edinburgh International Book Festival and it is here that I fell in love with Books. But now, everything has started to look very bleak and I’ve lost my motivation.  Even the optimist in me has gone into hiding and the sugar rush has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

MY OWN EXPECTATIONS Vs MY OWN SELF WORTH

It’s been two weeks since I picked up Going Home.  I am a week behind on a new book.  I feel like I have failed.  But why?  It’s not like I have a deadline.  There is no rush.  So why do I feel bad for falling behind?  I had expected that I would be upset for a day, at the most, and then move on.  Am I expecting too much from myself?  I wonder; do we breed expectation and then hold ourselves accountable in unhealthy ways? 

Our families, wrongly or rightly, expect certain things and behaviours from us.  Artists, like me, are expected to ‘create’ art even during this lockdown.  If we don’t, can we even call ourselves real artists? Our society expects us to chase the £££’s so that we can live.  The more £££’s we make, the better we can expect our lives to be, so they say.  With every job we are expected to smash records and impress everyone, even the office dog, because if you don’t you’ll be perceived as a useless, talent-less person.  Hell, there is even an expectation to answer calls, texts and emails immediately because we literally have nothing stopping us now. 

Well, right now, I have no desire to do anything.  I don’t want to create, or read, or smash records.  I want to wake up late and not feel guilty.  I want to lounge about in my pjs and not be told to get dressed.  And, I want to stop giving myself a hard time.  We are a nation experiencing deep trauma and we are trying to understand why.  We are in mourning.  The last thing we should be doing is forcing ourselves to jump on that treadmill and press start.  If it is expected that we should join the rat race to ‘survive’, it must also be expected that we should slowdown in order to preserve humanity, especially at a time like now.  When we are ready to step back into the arena, and inevitably we will be, we can return with a renewed sense of desire and connection.  But right now, I am aware I need to take the time to sit, listen and feel. I invite you to do the same.

It’s because we ran away with time that we forgot to take in the first place.

T.B.C…

PS Happy Easter and Happy Vaisakhi.


8 thoughts on “The Curse of Expectation

  1. This was a really emotive read. Thanks for sharing – I think you just made a lot of people feel a lot less alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is so relevant right now. So many people are living back at home, it’s tough! I know I’d find it difficult living with both my mum and dad again, but I can tell you appreciate and love your parents regardless (some of these posts you can’t quite tell!). Don’t be too hard on yourself! I have to work from home so I wear my pj pants but a smart top. Some days I wear make up and other days I don’t – my students don’t care either way! x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is the perfect read for anyone right now; self expectation is hard enough without inadvertent pressure from strangers telling you how to spend your time. Eurgh! The Super Moon also knocked me for six; I spent the following day drained, tired, all my energy had shifted so I just sat, did minimal and I felt better for it. Sometimes you need to take that break, put down that book and put those pjs back on 🙌🏾 X

    Liked by 1 person

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