Get Over the Symptoms of “Supposition Syndrome” to Fully Transition
to Writing Life
Pick up a pen, right now, and jot down all the things you were supposed to be or do in life …
Include all the expectations you felt from your parents … your teachers …
It’s eye-opening to put it all down on paper like that. It can even change your current career trajectory.
… Maybe you were supposed to follow your parents into the family business.
… Or you were supposed to go to a certain school or marry a particular kind of person.
But then … you didn’t. (Or you did and became unhappy.)
And now you’re hankering to do something else or conduct your life in a different way from what’s expected.
All this stems from something called Supposition Syndrome.
It’s where parents, friends, and family members unwittingly place expectations on what you are supposed to be and do in life, based on what they think you are capable of.
Some of it is harmless: You’re so tall … you’ll be a great athlete.
Sometimes it’s meant to be helpful: We’re grooming you to get accepted to our alma mater.
Occasionally, it’s damaging: You’ll never get in with them … we’re a different color/religion/class.
In fact, a runner-up in last month’s Barefoot Writer Essay Challenge wrote about how “educating girls wasn’t a priority in most households in our part of the mountains. In fact, I was the first girl in my family, ever, to go to college.”
Sometimes, people’s expectations of us wind up being limitations.
Often they don’t mean any wrong by it … it’s all they’ve ever known.
But if you’ve ever glimpsed at the paid writing world, you know differently.
This is one of the reasons I’m honored to be part of AWAI and to call myself a Barefoot Writer.
Collectively, we are a group who defy expectations and work to live beyond the limits of what we were supposed to do and how we were expected to live.
Because the fact is, we’ve all, at some point in our lives, been told we should act a certain way … live a certain way … even earn an income a certain way.
Which is not to say we spit in the face of what other people anticipated for us.
There’s a misconception that to go your own way you must be defiant, proud, and resolute. That if you’re going to break free from what you were supposed to be, then you dang well better know where you’re headed.
That’s not true at all. You can know there’s something more waiting for you and still not be sure how to get there.
Which includes either wanting a change because of dissatisfaction, or needing a change because of a physical limitation or disability.
Here’s how to gently navigate your way past the suppositions you’ve been handed and toward the change you’re hoping for:
- Decide what stays and what goes, for now. Build on the list I suggested you start at the beginning of this article about all the things you were supposed to do in your life. If you’ve accomplished any of them, did they make you happy? Are there still things you’re on the way to doing? The goal here is to decide what you need to continue with for now — such as a job you don’t love but that brings in your only income. But you’re also looking for things that you may be doing or preparing to do that sap your mental and emotional energy. Those have to go.
- Build in self-care first. Before you even start training or studying or creating change, you need to be proactive about mitigating stress. Meaning, make time to exercise, meditate, or get a good nights’ sleep in whatever way possible so your mind is at its best, ready for change.
- Breathe visual or audible life into your goals. Say you want to be a writer, or leave your job, or double your income, or prove you can overcome any physical limitations you may be facing. Write down these goals and either create a vision board you can look at every day or convert those goals into affirmations you repeat, out loud, to yourself regularly.
- Take at least a daily 5-minute step. When navigating change, especially away from something you’ve been expected to do your whole life, it’s important to make steady progress. So even if you work on your new writing career for five minutes a day, whether that be journaling, listening to a webinar, or studying persuasive copy, it’s important to be consistent and to build a chain of daily success.
- Get a support system going. AWAI has several Facebook groups packed with working and successful copywriters who are happy to cheer you along and answer questions when they come up. Join those, introduce yourself, and check in regularly. They’ll motivate and encourage you as you move forward through your transition.
Stick with these goals, and eventually the things you were “supposed to” do in life will fall away in favor of the things you want to do and the things you were born to do.
What questions do you have about getting started as a copywriter? Let us know in the comments.
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