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Career Paths: Your Own Expectations vs. Everyone Else’s

Expectations and Projections Regarding Career PathsIn today’s market, it’s not exactly smooth sailing for anyone navigating the world of jobs and paychecks.

Territory becomes even murkier when societal expectations and preconceived notions about what constitutes a “legitimate job” enter into the conversation. This is especially true if you’ve chosen not to follow a conventional career path.

If your career choice doesn’t align with what others envision for themselves, you can take a step back and distinguish authentic desires from societal expectations and others’ projections.

A post on Tiny Buddha discusses author Kevin Sandness’s self-defeating thought patterns about being out of sync with his peers.

“Choices made to appease what you perceive others think you should be doing rather than what nurtures you are self-negating, and though they may seem like shortcuts, they will often not bring you any closer to fulfillment,” he said.

He admits that while he may have moments where comparisons ensue, he realizes that it’s nonsensical to compare himself to an “ideal’”that isn’t suitable for his personal journey.

When you’re in a state of growth, that’s where you’re meant to be. Living your life for others’ approval and conforming to a particular societal image, just for the sake of following the herd, may culminate in stress and unhappiness.

“Look at the positive side of your life path,” he said. “Read in between the lines and don’t focus on the negative of what you didn’t do.”

“On multiple occasions, I’ve been told that a job isn’t going to be fun or exciting … if it were, it wouldn’t be called ‘a job’, it would be called ‘fun,'” said Matt Kleinman, a 25-year-old Marine educator.

“They clearly aren’t very happy with the work they are doing and often seem to have a pessimistic view of their jobs and their associated expectations. I think that if someone didn’t appreciate what they do at least a little, then they have no reason to be in that position in the first place. Now with all that being said, no job out there on the market is ever going to be 100 percent fun and entertaining; every job has it benefits and there’s always going to be some negative aspects as well.”

When exploring career opportunities, societal expectations or people’s projections of their own picture of success can spark an uncomfortable dialogue. However, these perceptions don’t have to be internalized and suggestions can be taken with a grain of salt. When you listen to your inner self, it won’t steer you wrong.

Career Paths: Your Own Expectations vs. Everyone Else’s

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). Career Paths: Your Own Expectations vs. Everyone Else’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 22 May 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.