During a recent team building exercise for work, a friend of mine and her co-workers had to go around the room and introduce themselves. They also had to include a description about themselves. After the introductions were over the moderator asked each one of them to reflect on their description – why had they chosen to list things in that order? The moderator pointed out that the men in the room were more likely to describe themselves in relation to their title, work, schooling and accomplishments, while the women were more likely to incorporate details from outside their work life, like being a wife and mother. The moderator also went on to explain that the order in which they described their characteristics was also very telling. Prior to having this conversation with my friend, I don’t think I’ve ever given this idea much thought. I’ve sat through hundreds of meetings, team building events and ice breakers answering these and similar questions. My answers are always thoughtful to the present situation but I don’t think I’ve ever given much thought to the order in which I was saying them. Interesting.
A couple weeks ago I was listening to an interview with Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of the funny and brutally honest blog Momastery. In this interview she said “Women put all of their identity in these roles we play…..just ask a woman who she is and she’ll tell you who she loves.” That comment made me stop in my tracks. I rewound it and listened to it a couple more times. Echoing in my head was the descriptions I’ve used in the past - mom, wife, full-time employee/manager, blogger, life-coach, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, aunt and neighbor. Is this the list of who/what I love? Is this the order in which I love them? When people hear me say this, what assumptions to they make about me? Is my identity tied to these roles? Glennon went on to say “We live in fear because these things can be taken from us. I came to realize that I am a child of God, no one can take that from me.”
I had never really thought about these things to this degree before. I don’t think I’ve been afraid of these things being taken from me, but when a new role is added, there is always stress and anxiety of how that role fits in with all the others. As life changes, the roles we play change. Transitioning through these roles can be difficult. Do we allow these roles to define our entire identity? What if we described ourselves without using the roles we play? It’s an interesting exercise to see how ingrained these roles are to our identity and how difficult it is to think beyond them. What if instead of introducing ourselves with our roles, we began introducing ourselves with our traits? What if I said I’m compassionate, kind, active, thankful, loving, optimistic, wholehearted and curious? Chances are I would get a couple of odd looks and some people might not even know what to say. But beyond the reaction you would get, how would things change (or not) for you if you led with your traits instead of your roles?
Having trouble juggling your roles? I can relate and I can help! Connect with me on Facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll introduce you to my proven process for making it all work
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.