Be Who You Are Meant to Be, not Who You Are Supposed to Be

I have always felt an expectation to do more: to help others, to be a leader, and to turn weaknesses into strengths. Great role models have shown me that it is possible to do more: to go to school and work; to serve on nonprofit boards and celebrate family events; and to run a clean household and workout. What can I say? I am lucky to know such rock stars.

Yet, thinking about societal expectations of who we should be, what careers we should pursue, and what success looks like is exhausting. I have spent a notable amount of time worrying about what I did not have yet: a master’s degree, a sexy car, a husband, kids (talk about first world problems…).

When I look to our future, I would like more focus on well-being, happiness, and purpose. I want us to remove stigmas around failure and mental health issues, and to challenge the stereotypes of what we think people are capable of. How great would it be if we unlocked each person’s potential in being their best authentic self? What if we changed the boundaries of what people think is possible by providing access to opportunities and serving as their champions? That future gives me hope, and I look forward to playing an active role in that future of endless possibilities.

In a few weeks, I will be graduating from the Executive MBA Program at UCLA Anderson. I am focusing my energy toward my well-being, happiness, and purpose, as defined by me. It looks different than I expected, and in some ways, better than I dreamed. I am fortunate that my loved ones are alive and in relatively good health, and that I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I am making a conscious effort to help underrepresented people achieve their Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) too.

It is a matter of knowing what is important to you, having the discipline to stay true to your values and priorities, and then pursuing those BHAGs unapologetically. You can do it, and when you think you can’t or you hit rock bottom, please reach out for help. You do not need to tackle life challenges alone. Surround yourself with good people who encourage you and support you in your highs and lows.

Be who you are meant to be, not just who you are supposed to be.