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16 Quotes About Living Beyond Others' Expectations

Expectations can weigh heavily upon us and those around us. It’s easy to expect a lot from other people or situations and to be disappointed if they come up short. But when we find ourselves on the other side of that scenario, when others have expectations for who we should be or how we should exist in the world, we can feel frustrated when their vision feels so divorced from our lived reality.

As human beings, we’re programmed to want to please our peers and loved ones. But when we’re assigned unrealistic standards or pressured to do what’s “expected” of us, resentment can begin to brew.

Amid all those assumptions and mandates, we sometimes need to tune out what other people think and ask ourselves what it is that we really want. Carving out our own paths and learning about our identities through trial and error: This is how we can stay true to ourselves while continuing to evolve throughout our lives.

Below, we’ve rounded up 16 quotes to remind you that other people’s expectations aren’t the be-all and end-all of life and that it’s important to set your own parameters for success. After all, no one knows what’s best for you better than you.

What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
Ralph Ellison

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I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
Bruce Lee

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The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love.
Glennon Doyle

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Expectations are not based on reality. They are observations, expected realities, or beliefs of what you think will happen. Expectations of others stop us from acting as our highest selves and reaching our full potential.
Jay Shetty

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Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.
Paulo Coelho

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I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.
Muriel Strode

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To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect.
Joan Didion

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The key in letting go is practice. Each time we let go, we disentangle ourselves from our expectations and begin to experience things as they are.
Sharon Salzberg

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Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.
Brandon Sanderson

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Virtue isn’t demanding more of others; it’s expecting more of yourself.
Frank Sonnenberg

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I hope you do not let anyone else’s expectations direct the course of your life … I have discovered happiness in being true to who I am. I hope you will give that idea some consideration.
Julianne Donaldson

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I can’t think of anything worse, really, than to try to live up to someone else’s expectations of what you should be. You don’t make art by consensus.
Tracy Chapman

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Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations. It means full acceptance, even celebration of another’s personhood. Not easy, but so rewarding.
Karen Casey

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He was swimming in a sea of other people's expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.
Robert Jordan

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There is no joy involved in following others' expectations of yourself.
Miriam Toews

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I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values — and follow my own moral compass — then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.
Michelle Obama

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Featured image credit: Cagkan Sayin/ Shutterstock

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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