Human beings have much deeper layers than what appears on the surface. On the surface we only play a role. Someone who is angry all the time may be hiding his insecurity on a deeper level. Someone who is funny may be hiding his sadness. We’re like an onion which can be peeled to unravel the core of our being. Every layer brings us to a deeper level and closer to our authentic self.
In midlife we begin to concentrate on what is important to us and what we really want. For some people this realization is a real shock: They suddenly realize they are not happy and have not pursued the dreams they had when they were kids. They cannot deal with it and experience a real crisis: The midlife crisis. The midlife crisis with all its symptoms does not only happen to men but to women as well.
Life is not as simple as we would like it to be. We live and work in a complex world with complex social structures. There is constant pressure on us to perform and act the way others would like us to be or behave. There is pressure from work, pressure from our family and pressure from our friends. They all want something from us. No wonder we find it difficult to stay true to ourselves.
Have you ever played a role in your life? Like me, most likely you did; whether it was consciously or unconsciously. Human beings are great actors and play roles all the time. We are the actors in our own lives: Acting to be funny, acting to be tough, and acting to be liked by others. But meanwhile we forget to play the one role that really matters: Being our true self, being our authentic self.
Isn’t it funny that we spend a huge amount of our early lives getting an education; learning to read and write, learning mathematics and the history of the country we live in, but that we never get taught how to live life itself? The simple skills on how to communicate with people, how to be a successful, happy person and how to design our own lives are left out. What a waste!
We human beings like to hide as much as possible of our true nature. We try to hide our feelings, our emotions. Our sexuality. What our true intentions are. Our age. How much money we make. What our political opinion or world view is, if it is not in line with that of the majority. I can go on for hours with this list. The truth is that we like to give away as little as possible of our true, authentic self. Afraid that other people find out who truly we are.
People play roles all the time. Some people identify with their jobs, being married, and others because of their (financial) status. But is this who they really are? What if they lose that job, get divorced, or lose all the money they have? Is their identity gone? Have they identified so much with a role, even if it causes them a lot of stress, that they suffer to the extend that they do not know who they are, or know what to do, when that role is gone?