“It’s time to be who I am, instead of who I’m supposed to be.” -Thor
Yes, you read that right. I’m quoting Thor from the 2019 Marvel film Avengers: Endgame. Besides being a fan of superhero movies, I really loved the Thor storyline from this movie. Thor is the god of thunder from Norse mythology. In the film, Thor is grieving the loss of his home and family and goes through a major transition. This juxtaposition of a god that represents might and power being so vulnerable really touched me.
Cultures are, in general, comprised of a lot of “supposed to’s”. Every new role, or persona we take on has a list of the ways we should act and how to carry ourselves, and leadership is no exception. No one handed you that list, but through years of learning we all internalize it.
If you took a moment right now to pause and reflect, what would your list look like? What are your “supposed to’s”? You can start with leadership but if you’re feeling ambitious you can extend that to being a Peer, your roles in your family, and social circles. Go ahead and take some time right now to jot some of them down.
How many of your supposed to’s are just nonsense? Things that you know are absurd? My big one is perfection. I know it’s impossible and not even preferable but it’s always the first one on my list that I just can’t seem to erase.
If you’re willing to go a little deeper, how many things on that list are actually antithetical to who you know you are in your heart? While change and adaptation are valuable, are there “supposed to’s” on your list that actually feel like a betrayal of your Self?
“The first problem for all of us…is not to learn, but to unlearn.” – Gloria Steinem
The task of unlearning is no small one. But peeling off those layers, the years and years of learning means we get to know ourselves. To find out who we are and not who we are “supposed to be.” And hopefully, as we discover that person, we can accept and love them as fully as we would another.