Katerina Nickel
Freshman, Biology major


Reading Great Expectations might have seemed tough, but living with expectations is even tougher. While we as students may live independently, many of our everyday and longterm decisions are influenced by outside standards in our academic, cultural, and social spheres.

We are raised by our elders to believe that we are in control of our destinies. While that might be true, our choices in pursuing our interests are not entirely our own.

Michelle Nguyen is a biotechnology senior at the University of Florida. Like many, she struggled with finding her niche as her parents tried to influence her life decisions.

“My parents placed expectations of being a breadwinner on me,” Nguyen explains.

External influences have a tendency to cloud our judgment and create internal conflict. When asked how she coped, Michelle stated, “It wasn’t easy by any means. When I started off in college, I was depressed for a while.”

Nguyen was once a perfectionist who lived by the quote, “Failure isn’t an option.” She has now accepted that failure is sometimes inevitable and can provide an opportunity for self-reflection and recognition of inner strengths.

“The expectations I had for myself of just becoming a doctor overwhelmed me, so that’s all I thought about,” Nguyen says. “I defined myself as one thing and one thing only.”

Nguyen changed her perspective to begin leading a satisfying life.

Her advice to other students is to think about yourself as a whole person and incorporate your passions into your life, whether it is through breakdancing or rock climbing, as Nguyen prefers. While your parents are entitled to expect greatness from you, you decide in what light you shall shine.

Culture emphasizes the importance of appearances. We should look presentable, but do individuals really need to strive for the runway model prototype?

“I challenge the expectations of buying expensive clothes and looking top-notch. I don’t care if I’m in shorts and a t-shirt,” states Kelsey Smith, a family youth and community sciences freshman.

Smith feels comfortable in her own skin.

“I don’t let society push me toward that ideal perfect body,” Smith said. “I’m happy with my curves.”

Additionally, students, like Smith, may experience anxiety because of spiritual expectations. Smith feels that pressure from surrounding Christians, as well as “expectations from God, as a Christian, with Him living through me.”

Smith says she deals with the weight of the world’s standards through running.

“I love running,” Smith explains. “It’s unique because you can really think on a run, but sometimes it’s completely mind-numbing and you’re just running and it slows your whole world down .”

When it feels like it’s all too much, we should all take a step back and allow ourselves to be at peace. When we let the rest slip way, we might find just what we are looking for, hidden deep inside ourselves.

This generation grows up nurturing their interests in a society that is narrow-minded in its definition of success. We feel trapped inside a box with no room to thrive.

“It doesn’t just become your parents’ expectations of you but all of these expectations from society: how you look in public, how you’re supposed to think, and how successful you’re supposed to be in the future, “says Ansley Pentz.

Even though it is hard to still the endless chatter ushing us from all directions, it is important to stay grounded.

“Sometimes it goes down to striking a balance between what you do in school and what you do for fun,”Pentz says.

Expectations often weigh us down instead of lifting us up. However, it is what we do with these expectations that will direct our path to fulfillment. Any expectations that do not contribute to one’s happiness are not worth the time.

In the end, every person knows their own abilities and talents, what they are capable of, and how much effort they are willing to put in to get their desired results, more than anyone else.

All that matters is whatever starts our blood pumping and our hearts racing. If we focus on that excitement and follow our gut, we will be content in whichever journey we set our foot on.