I’m supposed to be WHAT?!

The other day my awesome sister sent me a link to a blog post by a woman who was celebrating her eighth year blogging anniversary. She had a list of “things she thought was supposed to be” eight years ago.

I thought that was pretty interesting so I quickly jotted down my list of “things I’m supposed to be”. I did it really quickly because for an over-thinker like me, doing these kind of exercises quickly doesn’t give the self-editing filters that “protect me from the truth” time to snap into place.

Here is my list –

I am supposed to be married
I am supposed to be thin
I am supposed to wear high heels and dress stylishly
I am supposed to be desirable to men
I am supposed to be moving up the corporate ladder and managing a team of people
I am supposed to have enough money to pay off my mortgage, have nice things and travel several times a year
I am supposed to be happy and attractive all the time
I am supposed to be independent and not need anyone

Holy crap!! Literally!!

Where did all that come from?!

Add to the list that I must do all these things perfectly and it’s no wonder that some days I don’t feel like I’m enough. That I struggle with feeling like a failure. That I want to hide before someone calls me out as a fraud at life.

Some of these messages clearly come from our culture – movies, TV, advertising. Who knows where I picked up the others – childhood, irrational emotional self-defense, other people.

And, while I imagine I probably have things in common with other people’s lists, there are also things that don’t appear on the list that could easily do so – supposed to have children (not in the cards and that’s okay), supposed to own a house (no, thanks, too much work), supposed to be a good cook (ugh, the kitchen). And, none of those things bother me or make me feel like a failure.

So maybe today is a good day to call bullshit on my list. To take the weight of it off my heart and my spirit. To accept that I am what I am supposed to be as I am right now and that it’s perfectly okay to strive imperfectly to be the kind of person I want to be in the world.

The kind of person I want to be; not the kind of person I think the world or my inner gremlins are telling me I should be.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s lists, if anyone wants to share. And, I think I’ll check back in next year at this time and see if my list has changed. I’m hoping it’s at least smaller.


16 thoughts on “I’m supposed to be WHAT?!

  1. I like this! Both making the list and calling bullshit on it.

    Here’s mine:

    I’m supposed to be a perfect wife.
    I’m supposed to have wild crazy sex 3x a week.
    I’m supposed to be a great cook.
    I’m supposed to keep my home clean.
    I’m supposed to be the best Mom.
    I’m supposed to give up my needs to raise my son.
    I’m supposed to have time and energy to keep up my hobbies.
    I’m supposed to knit up a sweater in a few weeks.
    I’m supposed to wear lipstick and sexy boots.
    I’m supposed to always be cheerful and happy.
    I’m supposed to have a perfectly behaved child.
    I’m supposed to not care what other people think of me.
    I’m supposed to own a home.
    I’m supposed to have a sizable RRSP by this age.
    I’m supposed to drive my car.
    I’m supposed to not be on this computer but doing other more productive activities.

  2. I’m supposed to have a clean house.
    I’m supposed to make beautiful nutritious meals for my children 3 times a day that they will eat.
    I’m supposed to have lots of friends and have an active social calendar.
    I’m supposed to have a significant other, who loves and values me.
    I’m supposed to have a healthy sex life. Bahahahahaha!!!
    I’m supposed to enrich my life and my families lives with culture and travel.
    I’m supposed to have money in the bank.
    I’m supposed to be well informed and articulate at all times.
    I’m supposed to have perfect spelling and grammar.
    I’m supposed to clean my gutters. (I’ve never looked into my gutters.)
    I’m supposed to know how to fix everything or have the money to hire people to do it for me.
    I’m supposed to be slender, fit, firm, sexy, and flexible.
    I’m supposed to dress stylishly.
    I’m supposed to be happy all the time.
    I’m supposed to be completely self sufficient.
    I’m supposed to have everything marked and planned for work every day.
    I’m supposed to get to work early, work through all of my breaks, leave late every day, bring work home every day, and drop everything for extra meetings throughout the week.
    I’m supposed to read people’s minds.

  3. Great post! Here’s my list:
    – I’m supposed to be married with kids living in a fab house that looks like a magazine spread
    – I’m supposed to have all the answers
    – I’m supposed to have heaps of friends and go out to parties every weekend (oh wait, that was my parents)
    – I’m supposed to lead a productive team in perfect harmony
    – I’m supposed to travel with the man of my dreams holding hands and kissing poignantly in front of dazzling vistas
    – I’m supposed to be witty and well-read
    – I’m supposed to be lean, athletic and stylish
    – I’m supposed to handle all my work with efficiency and creativity
    – I’m supposed to be so confident and spiritually grounded that nothing phases me
    – I’m supposed to have a graduate degree
    – I’m supposed to be close with my family
    – I’m never supposed to make any mistakes

    Interesting to read others’ lists who have what I am supposed to have and realize the grass is a similar colour green as the patch I’m standing on.

    Counter-list: what I am grateful for:
    – a few really great friends
    – owning my own home
    – being able to travel to cool places and enjoy exploring them on my own or with friends
    – a great career working with a dedicated bunch of people who respect and support each other
    – my health and ability to do most things I’d like to be able to do
    – the sunshine today!

  4. I am supposed to have a super clean house.
    I am supposed to have “quality” furniture.
    I am supposed to be a teacher
    I am supposed to have a job
    I am supposed to be a better priestess
    I am supposed to have a savings
    I am supposed to be able to give my children time to heal
    I am supposed to be able to make quick decisions
    I am supposed to have more energy
    I am supposed to to more things and be more
    I am supposed to be happy all the time
    I am supposed to own a home
    I am supposed to be almost ready to think about retirement

    Wow, Wendy, when I saw you do this and then Melanie I decided to try it too. Top of my head stuff without thinking.
    Let’s get rid of the “supposed to’s” and just BE. Be ourselves. Our authentic beautiful selves.

  5. You did a terrific job putting it all into prospective. Now, here’s my list 🙂
    I am supposed to be someone my kids respect
    I am supposed to do everything at work perfectly & in a speedy fashion
    I am supposed to always remain healthy and never complain
    I am supposed to check the oil in my car and keep the tire pressure up
    I am supposed to run my car through the carwash often-ain’t happenin
    I am supposed to cook elaborate meals in less than 30 min.
    I am supposed to call my mom daily
    I am supposed to like shopping
    I am supposed to keep my hair dyed so no one knows I dye it
    I am supposed to make everyone happy

    I feel better just getting that off of my chest. It’s so empowering to say those things may never happen, so there.

    Thank you for inviting everyone to share their lists. Great idea.

  6. I love your blog Wendy – I so appreciate how real and authentic you are and how you create the space for us to do the same.

    Here’s my list

    I am supposed to be married
    I am supposed to have children
    I am supposed to be financially responsible and skillful
    I am supposed to know what that means (‘financially responsible’)
    I am supposed to own a home
    I am supposed to have my career all sorted out and be ‘successful’ in my field
    I am supposed to be slim and flexible and look like a yoga teacher
    I am supposed to love and accept myself despite all my flaws, while still striving to overcome them, and making it all look effortless.. .(huh, what?)
    I am supposed to feel joyful and generous all the time
    I am supposed to be gracious and graceful, and on-top-of-it, all the time
    I am supposed to be more enlightened by now, and able to ‘zen’ my way through all of life’s challenges

    The theme of my week has been the notion of the Chinese finger puppet as an analogy for the impossible double bind we so often find ourselves in. When I look at this list (and those others have shared) I am struck by the impossibility of so many of our shoulds. Many of the ‘supposed tos’ are in direct contradiction with others in the same list, and some even with themselves. A continual lose-lose cycle.

    Thank you for shining a light on these shadows.

  7. I’m telling Mom! You stole my idea, and then published before me…!!

    But that just cuz I’m too busy cleaning my magazine worthy home, while creating nutritious meals that my children consume with gusto. After they’ve cheerful finished all their homework and chores and before they are allowed their 4 min of daily screen time. (hunh, didn’t know I could write fantasy…)

    Read your list Melanie after I’d finished mine… I realize I completely forgot the whole sex expectation (‘sexpectation’…?) aspect. Guess I’ll have to amend my list. Nah…


  8. I am suppose to be thin fit with defined muscles and lots of endurance.
    I am suppose to look after my parents, be near them.
    I am suppose to be healthy and pain free.
    I am suppose to be a good communicator and keep in touch with everyone.
    I am suppose to be a sexy intelligence wife with a great career. I need to be home, engaged and playful.
    I am suppose to be caring and assertive – that delicate balance.
    I should be settled. Not drifting.
    I should have saved more money.
    I should have been more of the world.
    I miss my friends.

  9. I’m supposed to be a great housewife
    I’m supposed to have no debt
    I’m supposed to do something with my degree.
    I’m supposed to know how to cook
    I’m supposed to wear makeup. (ug)
    I’m supposed to read educational books.
    I’m supposed to ignore hurtful things.

    Aw life.

  10. Wow! Thanks for sharing your lists! I am blown away by the honesty, the vulnerability and the sheer pressure of all those expectations. But, it also makes me realize that I don’t measure our friendships based on *any* of the things on your lists. Now, to remember that you aren’t measuring me based on anything on MY list!

    I also note that we are al women who responded. I wonder if men have the same kind of lists?

    • Wendy, I would bet that men have similar lists. I think that we are a little bit more open to public forums than they are though. Men have so much they are “supposed to be”. I don’t think anyone can live up to what society expects them to be. We have to change society. Hmmm.

  11. Wendy – love this post and all the lists.

    How funny that they just pop out –
    mine is – I should care about having a clean and tidy house, with laundry clean and put away (instead of in piles like it normally is)
    – that I should be ambitious and working on becoming something more than I’ve already achieved
    – that I should be able to separate my working day from my mom life, that I should be able to do more in less time, and still stay late if required for meetings
    – be available to volunteer for every school or extra curricular event that needs parents to be involved
    – create time and space for myself while being a wonderful mother and loving wife
    – have a beautifully behaved child who eats and sleeps when required
    – be able to find everything everyone else in my house loses and have esp to know when they need it found
    – be sexy, walk in high heels and wear lip gloss (hahahahaha)
    – know when my car needs a tune up (and how to pick a great mechanic)
    – be strong and independent

  12. After our conversation last night, I thought I should write my own list!

    I’m supposed to be happy all the time.
    I’m supposed to be a “good” daughter.
    I’m supposed to want to have sex all the time.
    I’m supposed to enjoy every aspect of motherhood.
    I’m supposed to love being pregnant.
    I’m supposed to love teaching all teenagers.
    I’m supposed to never complain.
    I’m supposed to be thin and beautiful.
    I’m supposed to enjoy being a SAHM when I am home.
    I’m supposed to enjoy working when I am not at home with my child.
    I’m supposed to wear fashionable clothes and always look ‘made-up’ properly.
    I’m supposed to be satified with my life at all times.

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