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May I have a dumb role, please?

News flash! You do not have to stay stuck in some dumb role that someone or something has imposed upon you. You can change your mind, say a different thing, take another road. Even when it seems that you cannot get out of a truly miserable situation, you can. Study Viktor Frankl.

Is it going to be easy? No, of course not. That’s one of the many, and main, reasons we stay stuck – stuck in a job we don’t like, stuck with that guy or that girl. We stay stuck in a body we resent, or a friendship that’s one-sided. It’s really so much easier to play a role that we know by heart, a role we are comfortable in, even if it’s not necessarily the one we think we prefer. You really know how to be the better employee but maybe you’ll get fired if you speak out, and you really need this job. I get it. It’s hard to strike a balance between self-preservation and self-awakening.

You know he or she doesn’t treat you right, but you’ve invested three (or 10 or 30) years in this relationship and no one’s perfect. You know you’ve gained weight since your glory days of youth but doesn’t everyone…and what’s the point of trying now, anyway? Friends are really hard to come by in adulthood, so why risk losing one by speaking up for my feelings – things eventually work out, don’t they?

Listen! We all have roles we play in life that we convince ourselves are just who we are. That’s simply not true. It’s dumb. You get to choose. It’s just that sometimes you forget that. Even if you think your role is fixed and permanent like the oldest (or only, youngest, middle) child, or the one with cancer, or the last living, there is room for you to modify a lot. If you are dissatisfied or unhappy with any part of who you are, ask yourself about that. Inquire within. Look hard at that thing. Sit with it. Dig deep and be honest. Consult with a professional if you need to.

I know, and you know, that there are layers and layers of complicated inputs to each one of our lives and they all require respectful inquiry. My point is simply this: We often accept our role, whatever it is and however it shows up in our life, dumbly, unconsciously, and without question. Caregiver, friend, spouse, employee, citizen. We just shrug, accept it, do what we do, what we and others expect of ourselves, and we often don’t take the time – especially when our own actions make us unhappy – to investigate how much of this we must do, and how much of this we can let go, leaving room for us to make other choices.

Maybe, along the way, we can make a choice that leads us to a happier role – one in which we’ve made conscious choices for our own well-being.

Ah! Now that feels like a news flash. May I have a drum roll, please?


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