How we play roles

How would it be if you can just show up as you are or as you want to show up? How do we play roles? And how can we stop playing roles? Without following any expected path. Not feeling expectations from others. Not trying to fit in any picture of ‘normal’ life. Or doing what you think that makes others happy. How would that be? And how would it be to live without any expectations about others. To give them space for being themselves and experience the experiences that they want to experience. Would that not be a life with less stress? For everyone.

The role of princess Sisi

During my last trip, I visited the Sisi museum in Vienna. It is a museum about the life of princess Sisi. Although, princess Sisi is more a fairy tale personage that is created after her death. It is the nickname for empress Elizabeth. In my previous blog I wrote about nicknames and how they influence identity. So it is with princess Sisi. It emphasised and romanticized some parts of her, but is not here whole identity. In reality Elisabeth was struggling to fulfil the role of a beautiful empress. She was also for many far away from the public role because it was too heavy for her to play that role. 

Zutphen in the morning at full moon

A not chosen role

The museum shows this struggle perfectly. Especially in poems and letters she gives an inside of her real desires and the fight with what people expected from her as an empress. One sentence where it all started with I will remember. When she is fifteen years old and prince Franz ask her to be his wife she responds something like: “Why do you ask me this, I can’t refuse it.” It was a life she didn’t choose for. When I walked around in the museum I tried to feel what she experienced and I felt it really strong. Although the museum has so much of beauty, I felt the sadness of it. The sadness of playing a role instead of being a free human.

We all play roles

But I felt not only her pain and struggle. It made me also realise that it is everywhere in our daily life. And often we cultivate the suffering of playing roles instead of being ourselves. Or we’re using things like alcohol, entertainment, shopping, food or others things to make it bearable. Which roles do you play? At work, at home, as a family member, as a partner, as a team member, as a friend, on social media or wherever. And who are you really? And are you able to let go those roles?

Two big shifts

Over the last few years I made two big shifts in letting go of playing roles. The first one was when I was ill. I felt that I could not fulfil the roles that I pursued any more. I had to let go. Somewhere in my head I hoped I could play them again later, when it was bearable again to do it. I did it because it was necessary, not because I wanted. A few years later I was much healthier and was picking up my roles. But I felt unhappy and realised that I had to change my way of living. Just doing what I really desired.

Discover yourself

And that wasn’t always easy. There were enough moments of doubts. Do I do the right things? Was it good to say goodbye to things? A lot of unknowing. Not knowing where to go or where the way will lead to. Being comfortable with that. And that I was doing what I was doing. Not always the feeling that I was moving forward. A gap on my resume. Especially if I looked around me to other people. All things that I was scared for, for many years of my life. But if I went back to my heart I felt that it was the right way. And that I was happy with what I was doing and discovering. And that I had to trust that things worked out later. In the end, they will do.

It is always there

But even now, roles are always nearby. For example as a coach, but also on other aspects of my life. I want to be myself, but also to improve my self. There are showing up tons of choices. And is always the question if I want to do something because I really think I can grow from that. Or that it is because I think (unconsciously) that I have to do that to act like a coach. I pursue to do things for the first reason. But there are doubtless things I’m doing in order to the second one. And if I become aware of that, I will change my decision. We always have that choice. To choose our own way. To learn. And to step out of these roles. Are you aware of it?

Questioning your roles

Do you ask yourself questions about the roles you fulfil in life? Are you acting like you’re acting because you really want to act like that? Or is it because you think you have to act like that? Although I’ve let go to pursue for the societal perfect picture I’m always aware if I’m pursuing for any role. And if it is really who I am or that it comes from missing something. And to pretend something. That is what I ask myself often. Am I doing something because I really want that or is there another reason for it? The answers are inside ourselves. Our heart knows. And if we take the time and dare to be honest, we will find the right answer. Sometimes it is painful at that moment. Later on you will see it is the right way and increases real happiness.