Our lives are largely defined by the roles we play in relation to others and we play different kinds of roles throughout our lifetime. Some of these roles we are born into, some are imposed upon us and some we choose.
We may be born into a role, such as the role of a girl, being the daughter of a mother who is ill, or being the youngest of three siblings. These roles are given aspects of our circumstances. They are not imposed by our parents or our culture; neither are they chosen.
A second type are those roles that are given to us or imposed upon us by people such as parents, teachers, peers, spouses and partners, bosses and others. In childhood, these may be roles such as “good girl”, “bad girl”, smart student, lazy kid or a natural athlete. In adulthood, we are often expected to fill roles such as a selfless mother or loving wife and we are labeled with other roles that may or may not be true: loyal friend, uncaring sister, a selfish daughter.
Third, there are roles that we choose: businesswoman, adoptive mother, graduate student, musician and artist to name a few. Sometimes the roles we occupy fit us pretty well but many times those roles are at variance with whom we really know ourselves to be on the inside. Here are a few questions to ponder about our roles:
1) What roles were you born into and what roles were expected of you or imposed upon you by others?
2) What roles have you chosen in your life or would you like to choose?
3) Which roles in your life have you enjoyed the most or hated the most?
4) Have you felt limited by the roles expected of you because of being a girl or a woman?
5) What roles do you occupy now and how have those roles changed as a result of growing older?