I have a lot of roles to play out each day. You know what I mean–the lover, friend, therapist, all around fixer etc. I wear so many hats that sometimes it fees like I’m performing different roles in a play. It’s normal to be different things to different people, but what happens when those things begin to take on a life of their own–when it feels like you’re being a different person altogether?
It can be downright exhausting when you realize who you perform for. Does this sound familiar: you can’t be a little off color in front of your parents because they’re old school. You have to talk about politics with your boss so he doesn’t think you’re a brainless nitwit. You are the sexy, nothing-bothers-me girlfriend.
And what’s funny is that a lot of the time, people can see through the crap. They can see that you’re spinning life through a particular lens that doesn’t suit you.
When did we start trying to be different things to different people?
I was recently listening to a conversation between girlfriends, who were talking about these sorts of roles. It was obvious they were polished o the outside and seemed to have it together, but they were complaining about having to play the game. They’re moms, wives, sisters, friends and caregivers among many other things. They tweak their temper not to upset others. They twist and contort their opinion to keep the peace. They tamper down their personalities to smooth things over. It’s something they were taught early in life–to be polite, to not rock the boat, to be seen and not heard. How utterly boring.
What if someone just told them to stop doing that? To just take a deep breath and be themselves?
Being yourself wholeheartedly means being vulnerable. It can be uncomfortable when you are the full throttle version of yourself, it’s scary and you can be rejected because people may not like you at that moment. But what if that was ok? Afterall, you can’t please everyone. And guess what? If you turn those people off, those are not your people.
And there’s also a lot of other wonderful things that come with being yourself like relief and ease. You can relax. You automatically create room for other like-minded friends.
As I get older, I realize that I care less about what other people think about me. Don’t get me wrong, that pit in the stomach feeling still happens–wanting to seem like I’ve got it together! I’m making it happen in life! And it’s all easy! But nothing could be further from the truth, we’re all feeling our way through. But I find it’s a lot easier to manage things when I’m not lying to myself about it. I think it’s a combination of maturity and understanding that everyone else has that same fear of just wanting to be ok.
What I often forget though, is that people connect on the things we usually try to hide. The quirks and the weird things that we think other people won’t like, are the most endearing part of who we are. We all want to seem more ‘normal’, where in reality it’s that freak flag that really draws people in.
We all play roles in our lives, but hopefully there comes a point where the role you’re playing and who you really are come together. It feels good to be authentic and make no apologies for your presence in the world. Try it out, you might just be surprised.