Friday, April 27, 2007

The many facets of me

I've been given cause to think a lot lately about the tension between the various aspects of our beings. For example, in no particular order, I am a:

  • woman
  • wife
  • mother
  • worshipper
  • practising Christian
  • singer
  • learning professional
  • voter
  • teacher
  • student
  • step-sister
  • stepdaughter
  • social media user
  • member of online communities
  • learning designer
  • learner
  • leader
  • human
  • homeowner
  • half-sister
  • friend
  • follower
  • female relative of various other sorts
  • expatriot
  • employee
  • colleague
  • driver/road user
  • daughter
  • citizen
  • blogger
  • birth-mother-but-not-mom
  • swimmer
  • customer
I'm sure I've left several out, but you get the idea.

I don't think of these roles as being things I pick up and put down. I am always a daughter, even when I am concentrating on driving my car in rush hour traffic, and not thinking about my mother. I don't stop being a woman when I go to cast my vote. The fact that I am a Christian will influence the way I think about everything else. The fact that I am a wife will influence the way I conduct myself in a social setting.

And yet. And yet.

I am a chameleon. And I'm not talking about the outward matter of grooming - that's a given. I'm talking about more fundamental matters. When I speak on the phone to another South African, everyone in the room knows it - apparently my accent changes noticably. But it's not just that. My vocabulary changes in each situation. When I am counselling one of the members of the church group I lead, I use terminology that would not be acceptable when resolving a situation with a colleague. My confidence level fluctuates wildly. In respect of some of these roles, I am self-assured, in others, cripplingly insecure. My sense of self-worth is inconsistent. In some areas of my life, I know that I am valued - cherished, even; in others, I know that I am not - I may even be despised.

If one of my clients were to be a fly on the wall in my office, would his view of me change for the better or the worse? If my friends were to overhear my next performance appraisal with my manager, would they recognise the Karyn they know? If I had a party which was attended by people from work and people from church, would I be conflicted as to how to behave?

There are times when my leadership role is in tension with my family commitments; when my role as a student conflicts with my role as a mother; when my role as friend puts pressure on the wife in me. Some of the more recently added roles are in tension with some of the longer standing ones, and I'm struggling to assemble the pieces of the tangram into a shape that I can live with, without hypocrisy.

Is this just a symptom of our times? Do we all spread ourselves too thin, and should I just learn to "deal"?


Anonymous said...

I think we all experience the conflict and tension you describe. We feel confident when we are comfortable in the role. If we lack confidence we are on edge to perform.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the positive perspective, Michael!

Cammy Bean said...

I think we all struggle (at least, I know I do!) with managing all the hats we have to wear in the course of daily life. The challenge is to maintain balance and serenity in all of that. And to discard those roles that no longer fit, that never did fit in the first place. To keep that edge, but to be honest when that edge is too sharp.

Anonymous said...

Good advice, Cammy! I wonder if I have the courage to take it... Over recent months I have had to admit that I am keeping too many plates spinning, but I can't bear the thought of letting any of them drop.