It seems everyone has an opinion about what you should do with your life!
Once, an arguing couple’s disgreement became so acute that they had to settle it in court. There, they began quarrelling in front of the judge! The wife demanded, “I want my son to become an accountant!” while the husband countered, “I want my son to become a doctor!” As it went back and forth, each side stubbornly defending their corner, the judge interjected and innocently asked, “Why don’t you just ask your son what he wants to be?” The couple looked at the judge incredulously – “our son is not even born yet!”
It’s scary how much expectation lands on our shoulders from family and friends. On top of it all is the added pressure from society, media and the general trends of the world. How do we manage it all?
We must acknowledge that everyone's expectations don’t hold equal weight. If you try to please everyone in life, you'll end up pleasing no one. So, whose expectations should we take seriously? Well, if someone knows you well, your strengths, weaknesses, your hopes and dreams, the history of your journey, then naturally their expectations count for more. In sanskrit we say they are sajātiya, or likeminded. In addition, if they love you, genuinely want you to be the best you can, and are a sincere well-wisher, then they are empowered not just by head, but by heart. This is known as snigdha, or natural feelings of affection. Further, if they are spiritually wise, mature, experienced and equipped with deeper vision, then their insights can take you far. This is known as āśraya, or the spiritual qualification to give shelter and help.
In essence, while you can draw something from everyone, the expectations of those who know you (sajātiya), love you (snigdha) and can genuinely help you (āśraya), count for more.
(Excerpt from the upcoming “Tattva2: Old Words Open New Worlds”)