Some say that you don’t need a niche, but just need to be prolific, to create a lot, in order to find content that resonates with a given audience. As I report their advice here, I notice that I haven’t understood it. Worryingly, I was ready to follow it.
I feel surrounded by advice that translates into internal expectations. On top of that, there are also explicit expectations that aren’t even framed as advice but simply put as performative requirements.
Expectations are tiring. They feel stale and unrewarding. Yet they seem so central in the society we live in.
I guess expectations wouldn’t be so annoying if we look at them as proposals and invitations rather than requests or requirements. In improv there is this dynamic where one of the actors put forward an idea and the other is expected to respond to it. But really, this expectation is more like an invitation and a proposal. The responding actor is free to respond to it in whichever way they want and they feel like evolves the scene in an interesting way.
Likewise, if we look at expectations and advices in life as invitations and proposal to consider this or that, they lose their annoying power and become like, hum, even potentially interesting.
However, there is a problem, even when we take expectations and advices as proposals, when we receive thousands of them in a day, when we are overwhelmed and overflowing of advices and invitations, it becomes very hard to skim which ones we truly want to respond to and why and which ones aren’t that important for us, or maybe just not now.
And this is not an hypothetical. We live immersed and overwhelmed in an amount of information that is far far beyond what we are able to process and make sense of. It is natural when drowning in this ocean of information, advice and expectation, to start respond automatically to some, just because they seem right at face value, and forget to question them because there is no time as new information is already coming in.
So we enter this daily cycle of accumulating expectations and feeling somewhat guilty for not meeting them. We feel guilty for not meeting something that we haven’t even figured out we care about. How silly is that?
A way to respond to this trouble that seems to make sense to me is to be more intentional and advocate greater agency for oneself. The key move resides in the initial attitude. It requires to courage to say: “I am going to live my day in my own terms, to focus on what matters to me and to do what makes me happy and allow me to live a life that I consider good”.
Starting with this mental stance, allows us to then interact with anything that surface to us as: “Is this relevant to how I want to live? Can it help in any specific way?” If the answer is not a “fuck yeah!” and maybe just a “not now”, then we can move on and maybe, maybe, we have own a duty to ourselves to move on.
Mind you, this requires thinking through what is a life that we consider good and throwing a lot of self-acceptance and that. If we orient towards a good life normatively, without accepting and taking into consideration what we want and crave without specific reasons, we will eventually stifle ourselves into disciplined unhappiness and lose any motivation and internal alignment over time.
Thus, after this sermon, I can take a more introspective stance and ask myself two questions:
(1) – How does a good version of my life looks like?
(2) – What advices and expectations irrelevant to (1) do I easily fall for?
My good life
How does a good version of my life looks like?
Reflective. There are ample and supportive spaces and times to ponder and reflect on what is happening and what interesting moves I can take about it. Such as this one.
Beautiful. I proactively respond to the calls of Quality and make myself available to be a conduit in whatever I do. I develop software of good quality, both in terms of its functioning, maintainability and value that it brings to user. Same for anything else I do: I express Quality when doing it. Every moment of my life is a work of art.
Fun. I pay attention to energise and enjoy myself. I do things playfully and lightly. There are no mistakes, just new inputs for doing something new. I live my life like an improv scene. I openly accept and admit that I have no idea where I am going.
Social. I seek people that I like being with and create Quality social moments with them. I learn about others people in all their nuances and facets and let the fact that we are present at the same time shape my life and express itself through it.
Inquisitive. I stand by curiosity. I investigate things without expectations of what will come out of my investigation. I learn for the sake of learning. I dig, dig, dig.
Experimental. I try things out. I take on tolerable risks. I figure out how things work by trial and error. I take actions to see my ideas through.
Confident (see below for where this emerged). I take care of the conviction I need to be experimental. I create conditions of safety and confidence that give my surrounding a feeling of possibility and momentum. I care and preserve my momentum so that things keep happening.
Expectations that stand in the way
What advices and expectations that are irrelevant to living my good life do I easily fall for?
Achievement (big one). I am very susceptible to any advice and expectations that points to some kind of achievement and, usually undefined, success. Achievement is usually a strategic tool useful to live lives we consider good, but I easily fall for it because achieving gives me confidence. So perhaps, I just need to recognised that I need to feel confident? If I accept that I my good life feels confident, then I can seek this explicitly and not getting crowded out seeking confidence at the unaware expense of other things that are important, but I can more openly balance our this value with others.
Interesting realisation, this one, that my good life also feels confident, positive and hopeful. It makes a lot of sense when looking at it retrospectively form the vantage point of this realisation. Wonderful! I am happy of having discovered this. Now I can care for and design for this value and need.