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I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the various roles we all play in life and how easy it can be to lose sight of what is most important when we are overwhelmed with ones that are not completely fulfilling or are uninspiring.
Like most women, I play many roles both personally and professionally. Personally I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend, an “aunt”, etc. This doesn’t include the additional roles that I embrace by choice – a feminist, a sports fan, an activist, a yogi (is that what you would call a person that does yoga?!?), a reader, a writer, a student, a photographer, etc. There are unlimited possibilities for us to take on these types of roles based on our passions. Professionally, I am a professor, a writer, an employee, a boss, an advisor, a speaker – the list sometimes seems unending.
The thing that has been of particular interest to me lately is what happens when we don’t necessarily enjoy all of the roles that we play. As Brian Moore, the Irish writer wrote: “There comes a point in many people’s lives when they can no longer play the role they have chosen for themselves. When that happens, we are like actors finding that someone has changed the play.”
On a personal level I adore the roles I play – I love being married (and having a fabulous husband certainly makes that easier!), I have fantastic friends and family and I have interests that I am incredibly passionate about. Professionally though, my thoughts are different. I love being a professor and I enthusiastically embrace the roles of writer, speaker and advisor. Unfortunately, that is just a small part of what I do on a daily basis. Most of the day I am a boss and an employee – roles I don’t relish.
This all came to light last week when I sat in a meeting with my boss and found myself thinking about how fake I sounded and how much I hated it. It was as if my internal monologue was incapable of being quiet. I wanted to tell myself to stop smiling and nodding, to shut up and to run screaming from the room for fear that I was at best destroying intelligent brain cells and at worst going crazy. I realized in that moment that I didn’t like myself in that role – I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, I was being fake because it was easier than trying to get change to happen and I was simply playing the role of the good employee and following the acceptable script. I returned to my office and relayed the appropriate information enthusiastically to my staff and kept up the charade. It was once I was by myself that I realized that my job didn’t challenge me nor did I find it fulfilling anymore. I was also forced to realize that I can’t change very much about the job, the organization or the staff so that leaves it up to me to do something to change myself.
I don’t want to do work that doesn’t make me passionate, I don’t want to speak in appropriate sound bites and not say how I am really feeling, I am tired of fighting large battles to accomplish almost no change and I don’t want to feel like when I get dressed in the morning I am simply preparing for my professional role – like putting on armor for battle. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of getting paid and of picking my battles. Unfortunately though, this wasn’t a one time occurence – this was one more instance in a very long line of instances that make it abundantly clear that change at work is not going to happen and that change for myself is necessary. As Moore said, I felt like an actor with a revamped script playing a role I never signed on to play and that made me frustrated and resentful.
I am not naive – I understand that there are parts of every role we play that we don’t like. As part of my role as homeowner/homemaker I have to clean bathrooms and do laundry – not things I love. As part of my role as a family member I am occasionally required to participate in family events that I don’t enjoy OR I get pulled into discussions/arguments as mediator/arbitrator and I don’t enjoy that either. As a professor I have students that just do not do the work regardless of how much support I try to offer them. I don’t like having to fail students but it is part of that role. As a writer I am occasionally uninspired by an assignment or I am given a deadline that seems unreasonable but I understand that these are part of the job.
However, in spite of these examples, I do firmly believe that we should enjoy the majority of what we do in all of the roles that we play. We are all capable of dealing with occasional unhappiness or obstacles. We can get past fights with friends and loved ones. We all have days and weeks that seem never-ending and full of annoyances. Despite this I believe that it should always be obvious that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – without that why do we continue to do something?
Presently the light on my full-time job is dimming considerably while the light on the other things I do (both personally and professionally) grows brighter and more appealing….definitely something to consider!
What I dislike about sports… March 19, 2010
I’ll start by saying this – I love sports. In my mind, there is nothing better than a cold drink and a hot dog at a baseball game or a Sunday afternoon on the couch watching football. I love the Olympics and the World Cup. I’ve played and coached several sports and I love a family game of volleyball or an impromptu trip to the batting cages. I admire and appreciate the hard work of athletes, the teamwork and the camaraderie among players and the committment to success.
Last night the Boston Bruins vs. Pittsburg Penguins NHL game illustrated exactly what I don’t like about sports – revenge, violence and immaturity. I don’t love hockey – I’ll admit that too – but I appreciate the work these athletes put into their chosen sport and the skill they need to compete. However, when the violence associated with hockey crosses the line from part of the game to planned revenge – I have a problem with it.
I understand that most sports have a component of violence – baseball pitchers throw at the best hitter on the opposing team if their teammate has been hit with a pitch; soccer players slide tackle each other for revenge for a previous bad call; even NBA players throw extra elbows or box out with more force if they feel they need to make up for being “wronged” by their opponent. When it happens in the same game – with emotion and tension clearly raised — I get it. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
Last night was ridiculous. Since the March 7th incident in which Boston’s Marc Savard was blindsided by a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke there has been talk of little else except revenge. Was Cooke wrong? Of course! Would I have completely understood if one of the Bruins had punched him out as Savard was being taken off the ice on March 7th? Yup. I may have even wanted to cheer. However, I truly believe that nearly two weeks is long enough for these players to figure out how to out on their big boy pants , behave like adults and try to win a game to honor their injured teammate. No one talked about the teams records, how this game affected play-off standing, the success of many of these same players in the Olympics less than a month ago. There wasn’t even any real talk of Savard and his condition and prognosis. Nope, everyone just discussed how the Bruin’s were going to get back at Cooke. As if making him the center of the media/sports NHL universe was a good thing!
The actual “confrontation” was also ridiculous. Shawn Thornton took Cooke on as soon as he skated on the ice. The sellout crowd at TD Garden yelled their approval and cheered Thornton on. Both players tossed their gloves and started punching each other — is this hockey or boxing? The refs practically cheered too until Cooke fell and it was their job to stop things. The NESN broadcast channel even put up a “Tale of the Tape” (very UFC in approach) with the players stats – clearly prepared and dying for the chance to show off their graphic skill as the fight ensued.
This is my problem with all of this: the players on the Bruins clearly paid way more attention to how they were going to deal with Cooke than to how they would win the hockey game. The focus on payback – instead of the sport – is disgusting. The tension was high the entire game and players were even more physical than usual. What would have happened if someone had been even more seriously injured than Savard was? Would ruining someone’s career (or life) have been fitting punishment? When is enough, enough? How would the Bruins have felt if they lost another teammate during their payback? Wouldn’t Savard have preferred a win to avenge him?
In the end the Bruins lost the game, the crowd booed the home team with the same intensity they had booed Cooke with at the start of the game, Savard isn’t back on the ice yet and the Penguins got their first shutout. WOW! Aren’t you all very impressed by Boston’s revenge?
Discovering New Oceans March 10, 2010
“You cannot discover new oceans unless you are willing to lose sight of the shore.”
I believe I saw this quote for the first time nearly a year ago. I had ordered chinese food for lunch with a coworker and this came from my fortune cookie. Usually, I laugh at the “fortunes” and throw them away but for some reason I felt compelled to put this particular one on the bulletin board above my desk. I have looked at it periodically in the last year but have found myself drawn to it more and more lately.
Change can be a scary, scary concept. It can be intimidating and can force you to question yourself and your decisions. It can make you feel frozen in your current state of existence unable to move to the next stage. That said, change can also be inspiring and exhilarating. It can help you to break free of the things that hold you back and propel you towards what could be. I believe in the more positive concept.
One of my best friends and I have been contemplating the value of change a lot lately – of making big moves and taking risks. She has done a fabulous job of already taking the leap into the new ocean. Currently, I am visiting the beach and putting my toes in the water. However, I have plans to plunge right in as soon as the weather warms up a bit and I have taken care of the necessary preparation – sunscreen, a new bathing suit, a cold drink, pedicured toes….
Joking aside, even though I would like to I can’t just jump in yet. There are things I have to take care of in preparation for the big swim. I sometimes struggle with whether or not the preparation negates the leap or if it is a responsible way to make a big move. I am hoping that the latter is true because change is coming and while I am very excited about what comes next, I am also curious as to whether I will truly feel prepared for change when push comes to shove. Though in reality I would question whether anyone is ever really prepared for change or if it all comes down to a leap of faith and the belief that everything will work out for the best.
I love that the idea of “new oceans” can be adapted and personalized. For my friend, her new ocean is 3,000 miles away and includes embarking on a brand new life adventure. For me, the new ocean isn’t a geographical change but rather it encompasses a variety of professional and personal changes that I have wanted to make for a while and just needed to find the inspiration and motivation to move forward.
So, here I come new oceans…not too much longer now!
Making Writing a Priority! March 9, 2010
Welcome to my new blog! As you can see from below, I haven’t written in a while and I moved my blog from another site in preparation of prioritizing writing.
I often refer to myself as a writer – I do freelance projects, I teach writing, I write…but ultimately, I want to truly be a writer – not just think about being a writer or occasionally act like I am writer. Day 1 of making this happen was relocating my blog and putting the words out there.
I have a very smart friend who is a Life Coach and she often says things that make me stop and think. When I told her that I was having trouble prioritizing my writing she wasn’t sympathetic. She basically responded that either I am a writer or I am not and complaining about not having time for it is the equivalent of complaining about not losing weight because you haven’t changed your diet or exercise. Point well made!
So, although I have made half-hearted attempts before, I am officially making the effort to BE a writer. I hope you will join me on the journey!