Most of my life, I thought my work, school, and home life were separate and I tried to keep them separate. By separate, I mean I acted different ways at work, school, and home. I thought I could be a certain way at work without having it impact school. I thought I could be a certain way at home without having it impact school or be a certain way at work without bringing that attitude into school. I find that having unity and consistency across all areas of life makes life easier and transparent.
The benefit of all this is that you don’t have to do all the work to play all these roles to be a certain way at work. You’re the boss or employee at work. At school, you’re the smart kid or the stupid kid, you’re the guy that takes notes or the guy that curses a lot. At home, you re the guy who’s religious, doesn’t curse, and does what they’re told to do.
When you have all these different aspects of a self of who you are, it’s exhausting. It takes a lot of work and I was doing it since I was a little kid. I remember in fourth grade I started cursing in school and I loved it. I wouldn’t curse where my parents could hear at home. I tried to limit my cursing to school. I was saying the F word and all the other words I could come across through recess and all throughout the day at school. I loved cursing.
Even as a fourth grader around 10 years old. I was making a huge effort to keep my school and my home life separate. At school, I would bully other kids around and try to act like I was the boss. I would try to get away with what I could and get in just enough trouble to not get my parents notified. At home, I acted like I was a good kid who did what I was told all the time. At school, I was wild and at home I wasn’t as wild. This carried over into adulthood.
The more roles you play, it’s exhausting. You have to remember all these different things to sync up what you’re doing and that takes time and energy. Then you don’t have that time and energy to do other things that might be more helpful like take care of yourself or make good decisions in your life.
When you’re a kid, you often just have home and school life – it doesn’t get to complicated. When you’re an adult and keep doing the same thing like I did it starts getting complicated. You have work, a relationship, the way you are with your parents, the way you are with certain friends, the way you are with other friends. Then you’ll have a way you are driving, a way you are at the gym, a way you are at the airport. You will have a way you are with your extended family and it gets exhausting. When you’re just getting through the day, playing a lot of different roles takes a ton of time and effort.
You wake up in the morning and then you’re a dad and then you’re a driver, and then you’re a guy at the gym and then you’re a guy in the shower and then you’re a guy at work. Then you’re the boss in one place and the employee in another. Then at lunch you’re a certain way with the guys at lunch and then you go back to work mode. Then you get home and you’re in dad mode and your wife comes back and you fall into husband mode. Then you’re playing with your friends online and you’re in friend mode.
All that in one day and maybe your wife’s family comes over and you’re trying to play in-law mode. It’s exhausting to play all these different modes because you’re trying to be a certain way in all these situations. You have to draw from your past in all these situations and it’s exhausting. Its stressful, it produces anxiety. When you’re in work mode, you’re worried about doing a good job in dad mode or friend mode, or in-law mode later.
You get in certain modes that you hate. For example, you get sick of employee mode and you want to play boss mode at work. Then you leave your job and work for yourself, but then you get sick of being the boss all the time. At some point you just want to do the damn work and not be the boss all the time. Then you want people to work for you so you don’t just boss yourself around all the time. It’s a never ending cycle of trying to find the perfect role and being frustrated with most of the roles you play in your life.
You get frustrated with how you are as a husband a dad, a guy at the gym, a driver. The only role you want to play is the one with your friends or the one where you’re the boss at work. All these things are like little ropes on you and you just get pulled down until you can’t do anything anymore.
There is a solution for this and it’s just to be present in each moment and try to be no one. Don’t try to be any specific role, just try and be useful in every situation. It’s simple and yet, it’s dynamic. If you just do your best in every situation then you can pay attention to what’s going on instead of looking into the past to guide your behavior. You’re instead looking at the future. When you’re trying to be all these roles you’re worried about what you’re going to look like in the future based on what you’re doing now.
I was talking to my mom one day and I asked her who are you and she said I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a retired officer, I’m a writer, I’m a vet and that’s who she was. She explained who she was in the context of all these roles. That used to be how I thought about who am I.
I am Jerry Banfield, that’s my name and I have a wife so I’m a husband. Now I have a daughter so I’m a father. I make videos online. I’m a friend, I’m a son, I’m a brother. I am. That’s all I am. All these other roles are not who I am. These other roles are what I’m doing and that’s a big difference because I can be doing anything and it’s often painful in life when the roles you’re in get stripped away from you.
You’re in a relationship and that role gets stripped away from you. For a long time you were a husband wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, partner and then that get’s taken away. You don’t know who you are anymore. That role is so important to you to play it is like an actor who’s on stage. Your role comes to an end and you don’t have any more lines you don’t know what to do anymore. You’re standing back stage looking around waiting for someone to give you a new role. When you’re stuck and you’ve limited who you are to the roles you play in life, it’s suffocating. I know for me it was suffocating, it was painful. I always wanted to get away from that. I wanted to get out from being in any particular role. All I did to escape was give myself a new role.
I have played the role of the drunk or the video gamer or the extra hard worker. I found some other role to dive into deep and then I decided I liked that role. Then when I decided I liked that role I wanted to be in that role. It was a never ending cycle of consistent role hoping and not knowing at all who I was. That’s challenging because if you’re trying to play all these other roles not knowing who you are is frustrating. You end up trying to decide what to say or how to act based on TV shows, based on things your friends say. It get’s confusing. Today, there’s a simpler way to live if you want a simple easy life and that’s to be present where you are at. Just be where you are and do your best in each situation and trust that in every situation will work out. That’s what I try to do today.
I try to be where I’m at and not worry about who I am in this situation. I am here and that’s it. It’s so simple and yet I had to face my fears to be able to do that. I had to face my fears of not knowing what would happen and not knowing who I am. If I do this, if I act some new way and I act without considering the past and the future then who am I? If I act without regard to the specific role who am I? That’s scary. That was scary to me to try and be who I was at the moment, who I am in this moment. To just be that way without the roles. To stand and look around and do what there is to be done in front of me.
It was scary to start doing that because I didn’t know who I am anymore. If I’m not playing this particular role anymore, who am I? When I am driving now, I like feeling empty. I’m just kind of a robot driving along and then all the other things that happen aren’t this personal story. I’m here and I see the other cars moving around and I try to do my best to drive in line with what’s best for everyone else. This means I’m free from all my baggage of my past bad driving behavior.
When someone cuts me off I don’t have to get mad at them because deep down I remember that I did that to other people. I’m just there and I’m driving and everyone else can do whatever they want. I prefer they don’t hit me with their car and I do my best to avoid that each moment. Instead of having to drive a certain way or drive a certain lane I drive based on how I see instead of how I drive.
Today I pray to be where I am without regard to what role I’m playing. To do my best this moment, to do my best here without needing to play a certain role or being validated by a certain role. I pray that I am free from the bondage of playing a certain role and I have the freedom to do my best in life. I pray that you have the same opportunity today to look at the roles that you’re playing and to see a way out of living your life through the roles you play. I pray that you see a way out into this moment, into eternal life, and into heaven. Hell is having to play certain roles and being limited by your life. Heaven is to see you’ve got everything you need right here in this moment already and it’s beautiful. Thank you for being here with me today. I’m honored you’re here. I appreciate your feedback and I hope you have a great day today.
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