I have many roles, wear many hats, have various interests and passions and responsibilities. If I tried to list them all, I would surely leave something out. We all have a list of who we are in relation to the world at large.
We are defined, in some ways by our circumstances. When I am with my kids I am "mom", but with people who do not know I have children, I am just me in the role they associate with me.
I try to be authentically me in all situations, while adjusting certain things. For instance, I would not use the same vocabulary with classmates as I do with a 4 year-old Sunday School class. Context leads behavior. That doesn't change who I am as a person and all the facets of my identity are still there, I just use a filter.
The key is to not live "in pieces". I want to be authentic and yet, I recognize that having many roles in life, I need to adjust for context. I start to worry that I am not being real; that in the process of changing hats, I'm wearing a mask. I don't think I am. I try not to. I am just me.
I started thinking about this because an instructor said he was curious to see how I would integrate my theology background in my future counseling career. He didn't mean it as a challenge or an insult. He is genuinely interested.
That started me thinking about whether I am who I am regardless of context. Just because I change my shoes, it doesn't mean I am a different person on the inside. (You don't wear flip flops to run a marathon...well, I don't run marathons, but you get the point, right?)
My faith is part of who I am. I am more accepting because of my faith. I am more likely to meet someone where they are because of my faith. My faith frees me and strengthens me. I don't think I need to talk about faith or religion or spirituality in order to live my faith with a client. I just need to be the non-anxious presence for them. I won't keep that background a secret. (I paid a lot of money for those letters after my name, LOL.) I am comfortable talking about faith matters with people, but I am not defined by doctrine. Whether I am in a situation where faith is the topic or not, I am still called to love others as I love myself. (Sometimes I am not good at that either, but there's that pesky humanity breaking through.)
I guess what I wish is that I was wearing a mask when the less than loving attitudes come to the surface; when I am not living out who I am called to be regardless of being mother, child, sister, friend, classmate....
Who is the authentic me? It's the woman here- learning and growing, succeeding and failing, yelling and whispering, speaking kindly or not so much. Authentic me can wear flip flops at the grocery store or clogs at church, maybe even high heels when I'm really dressed up. All the pieces of my life fit together to make the whole woman, I just try to use my filter.