Yesterday I spent the day in the primary role of dad. It was my daughter Kember’s 18th birthday, so I took her and some of her friends ice skating at The Eden Project. Kember is absolutely crazy about ice skating and if there was any job or anything she would like to spend her life doing, it would be skating.
We all spend our days playing different roles whether it be dad, brother, son, spouse, boss or friend, among our other roles such as peacemaker, writer, cook, cleaner, neighbour, nurse, social butterfly, entertainer or perhaps fireman.
These are all forms of identity, we temporarily become these different roles as if we have different hats to put on.
Is it any wonder life is so damn complicated? One moment you’re a cook, then you’re mum, and back to cook again in 30 seconds. Everything you do, every decision you make has to be based on your current role and not any other. It wouldn’t go down well if you tasered your son for throwing a toy car, even if in your day job you were a police officer!
What we bring to these roles varies, whether it be daily or yearly or anything in between – we might be feeling depressed or sick or overwhelmed, or perhaps just having a really good time, all of which can make our roles and how we play them out very different.
How many times have you thought you’re not being true to yourself? Perhaps your job or home situation is getting to you, or you feel like you’re doing something you don’t really want to do? There are times when our emotions get the better of us, we get swept along with life and end up wondering what happened to the years that have passed, and even wondering who we have become.
But wait. STOP. Stop for a moment and remember who you really are.
Let’s say you’re a tree and the roles are your branches. They come and go, grow and die back, break and look different every season. The trunk is your true self, it’s what makes you you. It is your core values, strengths and uniqueness.
Do you have a big heart, always compassionate and caring? Are you strong and loyal, with firm integrity? Perhaps you’re a great leader, diplomat or motivator. Maybe you’re a combination of these.
The roles we play are always short lived, however important they may be – yes, take them seriously but also take them on lightly, don’t make them your identity just like you wouldn’t try to support a whole tree from a single branch.
Now, even this true self, your ‘trunk’, is tentative. It is always growing and changing. If you find you don’t like who you really are, even that can be changed. You might find you’re closed-hearted, a fighter, nervous, shy, negative, or always in conflict. Even if things change and you become more social or take on more social roles, you may still believe at your core that you are a shy person. It won’t be easy, but everything can be changed; with a strong belief and honest awareness of your true self you can really bring any core value you wish to any role in life you have to play.
You have to play roles in your life – mum, brother, nurse, disabled person. But the type of mum, brother, nurse or disabled person you are is your choice. If you’re caring and motivated, bring that essence of you into every role you play.
Instead of being ‘a nurse’ be a ‘reliable nurse that cares’, just like you’re always ‘reliable mum’ and ‘caring mum’ at home. Don’t let life get in the way of being who you really are inside.
Article ‘How to be true to yourself’ Exercise:
- Recognise when you’re playing different roles.
- Identify 3 core values of your true self that you would like to bring to every role.