We hear it all the time. I'm going to quit smoking, start exercising, be healthy, lose weight, be a better listener....all manner of things that are basically saying "I want to change who I am".
This year, I'm going to be real.
I just had a heart-to-heart with one of my awesome colleagues. In our conversation, it came up that I tend to be different people in different situations. I think this is something that we all do from time to time, this wearing of different hats. But I think there is a large grain of truth to this.
Frankly, it has been one heck of a year for everyone I know, this "2013 Year of Change". Personally, I went from career medical student, moving back to my hometown and in with my mother-in-law, to studying my butt off for NPLEX (our Naturopathic Licensing Examinations), building a business from scratch, testing out my clinical skills and learning to manage and treat conditions that I'd never seen before, networking and speaking to the who's who of Stratford... and my head has just not stopped spinning.
By necessity we compartmentalize parts of ourselves. I don't call my coworkers pet names like I do my cat, nor do I constantly talk about the importance of gut flora to every person I meet at a party. Well, maybe my husband would disagree. I'm working on that part, anyways. We like to think that we can blend in and apply relevant parts of ourselves to specific scenarios. A skill, to be certain, but how satisfying is it to feel like five different people at any one time?
For me, I think this means taking time to establish who I am. What am I like when I am alone, when nobody is watching? Do I feel the same about myself when I'm wearing professional clothing? Do I use my own language, talk up what I'm feeling, or talk down to someone else? What do I have to offer, besides my vulnerable self, when I am not actively giving advice to someone in front of me?
I don't mean to say that I will show up at work wearing my new one-sie I got for Christmas... merely that integrating things like sense of humour and a striving for understanding into health-related discussions in office should take precedence over attempting to appear knowledgeable/professional/superior/smarter or anything else. Who are we, not as doctors, mothers, teachers, workers, musicians, but as human beings?
For my patients, I would say that being authentic, living YOUR unique purpose is worth its weight in fancy hats for every occasion. In practice, it is another story. We can work on it... and I AM working on it.
Rather than change who I am, this year, I just want to be me. You be you.