First 30 Days Blog

04 may

The Supposed-to-Be Syndrome

JoAnnaBoccardThis is where you are supposed to be.

This is what you are supposed to be doing.

This is whom you are supposed to be.

I am compressed in this one little package and I have lost my independence.

If you are supposed to be, then how could you be good enough as is?

Having said all this it very simply means that those around us, family, friends, co-workers and even acquaintances, put us in a special package with a tightly secure and knotted rope.

Once this package is securely around us this then is the way we are supposed to live. No surprises. That would never do. This package makes those around us feel comfortable, secure and safe. They know at all times where we are, what we are doing, who we are and what we are thinking. They don’t have to guess. They don’t have to search for us.

Here we are in our neat little package, unable to express ourselves, unable to create, unable to move about. We never dare to speak out and express our opinions. That is completely unheard of in our little world of ‘supposed to’.


I was in a, ‘supposed to be’ role with my second husband. I was working at a company in which there was an opportunity to advance into a different position. It meant doing work that had more responsibility, the potential for more money, and eventually a little freedom. To do this I would have to take a test. I told him about this after dinner and in the company of a very good friend of his.

Instead of him feeling excited and supportive he told me that I would never be able to pass the test. This is when his friend became angry and told him, that I could pass the test and he should not speak to me this way. I appreciated what his friend said, and my husband was astonished at his friend taking my side, but the damage was done. That’s how fragile I was. Once I heard his words, I knew I had made a mistake. I had angered him and I had to step back into the ‘supposed to be’ place.

There is no way out, unless we reach out and untie the knot in the rope and make our escape. But this is not so easy. We have been in our, ‘supposed to be’ state for many years, maybe even all our lives. It is very scarey to step out and try something new. We find ourselves returning to our package, retying the rope, even without their help.


The many men in my life all put me in a package of ‘supposed to be’. They left me there to fend for myself, knowing that they held the key to my freedom. If I even so dared to attempt to be me, or express my opinion they let me know exactly how they felt and told me how I was to act and talk. It was many times that I was told to not express my opinion. It made them feel uncomfortable if I were to have an opinion different than theirs.

I had my own values at a very young age. I knew what I would accept, and what I would not. I set the values for myself and did not expect anyone to follow in my footsteps. I also did not expect anyone to try to change me.

WAS HE RIGHT OR. . . . . .

I didn’t believe for a moment that I could not pass the test. I knew that his friend was right and I appreciated that he stood up for me, but it was not the time for gloating. I had stepped out of place. My husband’s ego would not let him accept the fact that I could possibly be equal to him. I would have a chance to leave my, ‘supposed to be’ position and this was not acceptable. It scared him.

My husband was a stockbroker and I was going to take the test to have the same career as his. Not because this was my original plan, but because the opportunity arose. I worked at a brokerage company, not the company he was at, as a sales assistant to five stockbrokers. I took the job because it was a different type of company than any other job I had worked at. I learned after working there that once a year, according to senority, a sales assistant would have the opportunity to study and take the test to be a stockbroker.

I did what he probably hoped for and maybe expected and backed down. I turned down the opportunity and gave up the possibility of changing my way of making money and the amount of money I made. There was no reason to continue working there, no other way for advancement and the money was not enough to entice me to stay. I left the job a few months later. This choice was not necessarily a good one, simply because I did not have another choice in mind. When leaving or ending something having a choice of what you are going to do next and a plan of how you are going to achieve your goal is absolutely mandatory. I did not change my way of working or making money, I simply stayed on the same plane and got another job.

Did what he say affect me? Of course, it did, but the choice I made affected me even more so. When I gave in I, also, gave up. Having someone tell me I can’t, accepting it and giving up and giving in is not a quality in me that I like.

A few months later it seemed that everything wrong with this marriage increased in magnitude. I was angry because I let him manipulate me. I saw him in a different light and I didn’t like what I saw, therefore we separated and I divorced him. My choice was to be single and for me this was a good choice.

Actually I am quite proud that I have opinions and that I am stepping out of my ‘supposed to be’ pattern. In its place I am becoming me and adapting to my new freedom. Gradually I am learning that in stepping out of a ‘supposed to be’ place, I am safe. I am accepting that I can do what I want, regardless of how others feel. Taking this step gives me a feeling of power. Facing the fear and anger directed toward me by the person that feels I’m betraying them, is a big step. The fact I am making the choice to tell a few people that I am writing and not backing down if I hear negative responses, is huge for me. By doing this I am announcing more emphatically that I am a writer and I push forward more focused than ever.


Have you found yourself in a, ‘supposed to be’ situation?

How did you react?

List the ways in which you can change and gradually break free without upsetting the other individual.

Is it really necessary (or possible) to not upset the other person?

How can you take steps to implement one of these changes today?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by JoAnna Boccard on May 4th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

  • Add Comment

Share Your Thoughts

You must be logged in to post a comment.