There are stories we tell ourselves about who we are. This blog post will reflect on the roles we take upon ourselves… and those we are given. What are some of the roles you fill? What is a role you have rejected? If you take up the challenge and want to share, please add a pingback to this prompt.
From the moment we are born, we begin to accept the roles people hand to us. Son, daughter, sister, brother… these are some of the early roles that are part of who we become in life. And they work their way into the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Throughout our lives, we create these “roles” for the people we come in contact with: he is a nerd; she is a jock. When we are young—especially when we are in school and still living with our parents—these roles are reinforced daily, and we naturally accept them and come to believe they define us. We settle into these roles and all their limits as if we don’t have a choice.
Eventually, the roles we are given may become tight and constricting as we strain to grow to our full potential. Maybe we have discovered something new about ourselves that doesn’t quite fit with one of the roles we carry. Or maybe we want to strike out in a new direction, defying the limits of our role.
There are, of course, always choices. We can stay within the confines and comfort of the roles we’ve always lived; we can remain small and compact. Or we can expand our limits and our roles by trying new things and adding those to who we are. Adding allows us to become more than our original role but avoids the certain risk undertaken in fully breaking out of a role. And breaking out is the third option. We can reject our former roles entirely when they start to cramp our style. I imagine the Incredible Hulk growing beyond the capacity of his shirt, and it rips to shreds as his body morphs into a mass of green muscles. That is how you break out of your role, my friends! You make it memorable.
And so this is what I’m working towards. What and who I am matters to me and only to me. If I am not fitting into what others have come to believe I am, they will adjust and adapt. Over my lifetime, I have seen this happen time and time again. Those around me adapt to the changes and the growth that I undertake, just as I adapt to their growth. If they can’t (or won’t) adapt, they will find someone else who fills the role they once needed me to fill.
Those who keep you small are only filling their own needs, and they need to move on. Those who truly love you will welcome your changes. They will encourage your growth.
So if you are ready to change your roles, to move on, I encourage you to break out! Make it both memorable and worthwhile!