The Matrix

Parental Expectations and the Fear Game

Over a long weekend, I was away at my parent’s house, about a three hour drive from where I live. During my stay, I got into a strange social situation, which induced a few thought processes. A neighbors daughter had just finished her school finals that day. I know the family from previous visits, and they are all wonderful people whom I deeply appreciate. The daughter had passed all her exams, her last oral had taken place that very day. I thought they’d all be happy and celebrating.

Quite the contrary was the case, since her final grade had not been as outstanding as they had hoped.  The air was tense with emotion, some of it unspoken, a lot of it said out loud, even though I, the outsider, was standing right there speaking with them. I felt deeply sorry for everyone involved.

There they were, wonderful people who love each other. In that situations they could not get past the barriers in their own minds, which ultimately ended up as barriers between them. Alive, breathing, right in the middle of this adventure, consumed by a story that can a) not be altered and b) is made far bigger than it actually is.

The world is made up of so much more than grades and school.  Sure, these can open doors, sure education is important. Yet life is filled with so many options. In this situation, I could see a micro version of what I see happening in society on a larger scale, which is where this thought process lead me.

We are all victims of victims in a way. Parents, who never learned to trust life or themselves, impose all their fears on their children. “You never to get your stuff together.”, “There are limited options.”, “The world is a cruel place.”, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”, “There is not enough.”, “You are not enough.”, “Get your act together.”, “Stop fooling around.”.

How well this collective attitude is working, can be seen in the statistics of workplace satisfaction, rising psychological problems, burnout, depressions etc – all that in countries where there is more than enough for everybody.

Creativity is suffocated, what sets a soul on fire has to be placed aside in favor of the “stuff you gotta do”. Alright, we have to pay our rent and take care of ourselves and families. But why do we add all this extra pressure to all the obligations which we already have anyway?

To me, it appears almost as if there is this linear path in so many minds alongside which no other options exist. This is the way. School, grades, university (or trade school), grades, job, retirement. But: this is just one way, only one possible way out of endless options to spend a life here! Parental Advice is well intended, parental control based on fear is destructive.

There are literally endless options to make a living in this world, look around. People get paid for all kinds of things, from down-to-earth normal to “I-don’t-believe-people-pay-for-that” crazy.

What if we, just to see what happens, believed that our options are literally abundant (if not limitless)? What if we believed that it’s about picking a directions and moving towards that instead of limiting ourselves to only one way in which things can be done and lives can be lived? What if we dissolved our anxieties and explored our options? What if we taught our children how to do that? What if we trusted ourselves and them?

“Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.”

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