Friday, 27 April 2012

Expectations can be a dangerous thing

For my first blog post, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nathan Li. I’m 6’0” and 154 lbs. I’m a 21 years old undergraduate Arts/Law student at Sydney University. Oh and I’m gay.

But you expected that right?

Expectations. We all know what that word means. Semantically at least. At Christmas we expect presents. When our pet goldfish dies we’re expected to be sad. When a lady is pregnant, she is said to be expecting. Expectations mean that something is supposed to be.

But expectations mean something quite different in the context of a person’s identity. Expectations may start to become a form of prejudice, especially in the form of “oh but you’re supposed to…” conform to some expectation of theirs.

Luckily (perhaps), I escape with little more than accusations about a gay man’s sexual promiscuity. I now take in good humour when a straight guy assumes that I “I want a piece of [him]”. He’s not homophobic! (says he). After all, he shows his tolerance by allowing me to “look, but don’t touch”. How awfully generous. But there are those in our LGBT community who are confronted with much more offensive expectations about their sexual or gender identities.

And these expectations confront LGBT youth from a very early age. As a child we’re expected to be a good boy or a good girl. Maybe we’re expected to play sport (I was expected to learn maths and play the piano, neither of which I accomplished). Later we are told we’re expected to bring home a nice person of the opposite sex for our parents’ approval before we marry him or her so that we can bear grandchildren for our ageing mother. And we risk disappointing those expectations. Well, I’ve disappointed my mother on three accounts already. I only hope that she’ll realise I won’t necessarily disappoint her on the fourth!

So I might have been blessed with some miraculous confidence in my identity (or more likely, some extraordinary rebelliousness!) to resist being moulded into a Stepford son. The unfortunate truth is that not every young LGBT person can claim to be so lucky. I don’t pretend to have extensive knowledge in psychology but one only needs to possess common experience to know that these expectations can confine and inhibit the development of a person’s identity.

But why do I make such a big deal about expectations?

The foremost reason is because I believe the world would be a better place if we started expecting the best in everybody instead of expecting others to conform to what we think should be.

The second reason is because I reckon we’re a diverse bunch (the Pinnacle scholars and the rest of the LGBT community). So I’m looking forward to learning from my fellow scholars and finding out from them new ways of seeing the world. Expect from us the unexpected!

Anyway I’ve taken enough of your time. I’ll sign off now and leave you to have a wonderful weekend.

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