What I’ve Learned From Letting Go of Expectations

06.23.2022 — Ashley Tisdale-French


During my career, I’ve struggled a lot with self-imposed pressure. Whether I’m doing a TV show, a movie, or a personal project, there’s usually a little voice inside me saying, “I really want this to be successful.” 

And on one level, that’s normal. Nobody embarks on a project thinking, “Well, I really hope this crashes and burns!” It’s healthy to have high hopes and to want things to work out.

But for me, that hope for success came with a lot of ongoing stress. I wanted to outdo myself, have my work stand on its own, and show people what I was capable of. So I fell into a cycle of choosing a project, focusing on success over enjoying the process, and worrying about factors outside of my control. Then I’d set the bar higher and start all over again.

Obviously, this anxiety wasn’t good for my mental health. So I started to ask myself, “What’s behind the anxiety? What am I feeling? What is the core fear?” My fear was that I would fail. That’s really what it kept coming down to: the incredibly common fear of failure. 

Realizing this was an eye-opening moment because I’ve already survived my fair share of failure. I’ve been able to get over it and move on. In fact, I don’t even refer to “failures” anymore. Instead, I look at setbacks as stepping stones to what we’re meant to do. 

Facing my fear helped me let go of my need to continually prove myself. Truth is, I may never have something as successful as the movies that I was in before, and that’s okay. I’ve had that experience and there’s no way to replicate that moment. Accepting that makes more space for living in the present, doing things because they bring me joy, and pursuing my purpose.

So here’s what I’ve learned. Whether in your personal or professional life, it’s easy to fall into the cycle of worrying about the future and trying to control its outcome. There is incredible power in letting go of rigid expectations. By opting for self-acceptance over self-imposed pressure, it’s much easier to stay in the present—and to appreciate the good things in your life this very moment. 

Ashley Tisdale-French
Ashley Tisdale is a mom, the founder of Frenshe, and an entertainer.