Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Becoming You

Twice in the past week, I have been in conversation with people around the idea of "finding yourself". That phrase always makes me uneasy, but the concept and process is a good one. My graduate work was in Counseling and I have a natural draw to topics like defining who you are and what you are becoming. For the past few years a lot of my reading and study has been around the topic of masculinity. In working with fraternities, and fraternity men specifically, I hear a lot of confusion and question about who you are and what you are becoming as a man. These are important questions. Questions that deserve pause. Questions that demand an answer. I'd like to begin a conversation over the next few weeks. Below is a TED Talk that sparked one of the two conversations referenced above. I encourage you to watch it and consider: Do you see this in our community?

As I watched this 14 minute talk, I heard observations that tied masculinity to achievement, wealth, physical strength, attractiveness, and sex. I also heard a plea to change a culture to be focused on relationships and commitment to a cause. A plea to re-connect the heart to the head. What Joe didn't share, but I know to be true, is that the ideal place to do this is in the context of fraternity. I invite you to join me in a 3 week conversation of Becoming You, spending some directed time looking at who you (individually and organizationally) are and what you are becoming. Is your world what you want it to be? It may feel rocky and stressful, but I promise you will consider a new perspective as we stretch together.

Week 1: Is what you are becoming defined by what you are NOT going to be?
I hear this more often that you might imagine. We live in a world that saturates us with ideas and images. We may not always know what we want to be, but we surely know what we refuse to become. Many years ago I had a girlfriend who shared with me that her upbringing had been filled with instability. Substance use, abusive behaviors, messages of inadequacy were what defined her childhood. This was all shared with me as we were both preparing to have our first child. I was surprised by what she had shared, but shocked at what came next. She told me that she had spent the last several years reading parenting books, researching theories, talking to people who had been parents in order to re-learn those patterns. She knew how she had grown up was not what she wanted for her child. But, instead of just saying, "I won't do XYZ", she filled herself with what she wanted to be. For her, success was found in not simply stopping old traditions, but rather in developing new ways of being. Some of us come to the table with a personal history that needs some sorting out. The challenge is to move beyond the "NOT" to the becoming.

This is true for our organizations, too. Do we declare, "We will not haze!" but not also share what you will be about? Do you model behavior that communicates what you aspire to? Or, do you just compare yourself to others and see what you never want to become? I often hear the "NOT" talk in fraternity recruitment. As we are approaching Fall recruitment, "What is your organization becoming?" How do you live that out? How do you sell that to others? Consider, reflect, become you.

Thank you for taking this leap with me.

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