When we were born into this world, we arrived with all our personality, our hopes our wishes and even our ambitions. The future ahead of us looked bright. It looked promising and full of hope and possibility. There was all to go for and all to explore. Everything and anything presented an opportunity to learn and to express oneself.
Then in no time at all because time flies we become adults in the world of work and society and various parts of us are shut away. Each naturally born part, replaced by an unnaturally fabricated one, created to serve a purpose in a part of our worlds to enable success (in our eyes) at best and survival at worst. The desire to conform and to be accepted in environments where “this is how things are done here” prevail over the years gradually eroding the true and authentic, self-expressing, genuinely life loving self that was born.
Different selves then replace the free spirited, curious, life loving self. Each one is then at the ready to take the stage depending on the situation. There’s the home self with the family and inlaws, life of the party self with the friends and the work self with the colleagues. In fact there could be many other selves too – I have come to appreciate how creative and inventive in developing selves required to get by in different situations we can be as human beings.
The work self emerges as one walks through the office doors. Depending on the environment, it barks at others, pumps up its chest, tells all the familiar or rehearsed jokes in the hope that the boss would laugh approvingly, say yes to the boss on all things and no to the direct reports on all other things – they matter less of course – and a third thing to colleagues. Well it depends on which colleagues – some matter more than others in the attempts to climb the greasy poles of power in the work place.
At the end of the day or in the early hours of the morning after the work self has slaved over the computer and responded to numerous emails as may be expected, she or he returns home to their family ready to get up the following morning to do it all again.
And then one day, retirement knocks on the door, family grows and friends disperse for different reasons and you wonder what happened to all of the years gone by. What happened to me? What happened to my true authentic self?
The question is this – what would it take for all our true selves to be present all of the time?