What the crowd requires is mediocrity of the highest order

What expectations do you have for your life? What were they aged seven? How about aged 17? Or 27? Did those expectations change? If so, why did they change?

Did you become a different person? Perhaps you met someone? Or did something unexpected happen?

Could it be that your expectations increased as time went on? Did you realise that you’d be able to surpass what other people thought you could achieve in your life? Perhaps you met people who had higher expectations of themselves and others?

If your expectations decreased as you got older, how do you feel about that? Did you tell yourself that you’re being ‘realistic’? Or did a comment or action from someone, or group of people, cause you to reassess things?

Maybe you came to a realisation that what you thought was important, actually wasn’t really? Or, it could have been that what you thought was unimportant, actually was vitally important to you?

Was it your health? Were you sickly when younger and grew stronger over time? Or was it the other way around? Is your health an excuse? A crutch? Or have you flourished despite your constraints?

Have you ever reflected on your expectations of yourself? What about those of others? Are you harder on yourself than on other people? Or are you harder on them than you are on yourself?

What would your seven-year old self say? How about the 17 version of you? Would your 27 year-old self be happy about your current expectation levels?

Quotation-as-title by Auguste Préault. Image by Davide Ragusa. If you liked this, you’ll love The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell.


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  1. Damn, it may be recency bias but I think this is one of your bests posts :D. I love that it’s all questions. Two answers come to mind.

    About how my expectations have changed with time, I’m in a constant struggle between having no expectations (other than having a good life) and worrying about my mortality in how I’m spending my life. My expectations have changed a lot through the years, but I wouldn’t say they have increased or decreased, they’ve changed laterally because I value different things and I have a different view of the world.

    And about my expectations as a child, I remember recalling often that someone told me “the most popular kids in school become losers as adults”. Which of course meant that I’d be a winner because I was a loser as a kid. Other than that being a fallacy, I know how stupid it sounds now because I don’t think there are winners or losers in life (each person has their own definition of success).

    • Doug Belshaw

      3 March 2020 — 15:32

      Thanks Noel! The post kind of tumbled out of me after a I re-read a quotation I’d written down at the end of my (analogue) diary:

      “The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours.” (Seneca)

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