One of the key parts of knowing who you are and who you want to be is an awareness of the roles you play in life. Supportive father, good host, generous partner, entrepreneur, growth-minded individual...these are all roles you could choose to take on and many more. Knowing the top 5 based on mind-space allocated, energy consumed, and joy given is critical.
Even more important is understanding how these roles have been defined, and what “success” looks like. I’ll take a simple example for myself to illustrate the point. I grew up in a Middle Eastern family, and one of the key roles you play in such a family is a “good host.” What did good host mean growing up looks different than it does now, but let me start from what it used to look like:
Be totally obsessed with running around make sure no glass is empty and all people’s plates are filled
Definitely do not order in and make sure every dish is homemade.
If this is reciprocal hosting by us, make sure we are as “good” and “thorough” in making people feel at home as they did
Make sure the guests never get up but you are getting up to get them whatever they need
Collapsing at the end of the evening because you are there to make their experience amazing.
You are so busy running around, you barely have time to eat and talk to any one person because you have to run around to make sure everyone is engaged.
Sound familiar? So why is this what being a good host meant to me. Family, culture, TV, friends. All of these created this image of a “good host.” BUT what did this mean for me.
Not eating the very food I made
Not having conversations that were deep because I was worker bee
Aversion to hosting often if at all
Stress/anxiety that I was failing to be good host
Lack of memories because I was focused on the end of being a “good host” and no focus on actual experience of hosting.
I started to ask myself do I even want to be a good host OR did the meaning of good host resonate with me at all. I do like spending time and eating together and sharing experiences/ideas with close friends, but my old definition did not work with me.
My role as a good host had to be thrown away, or I had to redefine what good host meant according to me so that I could embrace that role. I chose to keep the role of good host but redefine what it meant to be a role I wanted to keep.
This meant I focused on:
Not worrying about cooking and ordering in because that let me be more present and less anxious about making “perfect food”
Putting everything out including glasses, cups, wine, and such. Trusting guests know how to serve themselves.
Actually having deep conversations because I was not hopping around all the time.
Being present enough to actually what transpired in the evening.
Feeling energized after a fun evening versus shattered
Pumped to host again and see my friends because it’s a chance to share, be present, and enjoy people being around me in our home.
Lastly, our roles may change as we change and key milestones appear. For example, when you were young, you may have been the life of party and loved that role. Then you find a partner and have children, and that role may be redefined or thrown away, and that’s fine. In fact, we often need to take time to look inwards and shift/change roles because we change or our circumstances change.
The key point ideas to remember with roles is that we need to:
Take time to know and clarify our roles
Recognize how they were shaped (external factors)
Own the parts we want to keep, redefine the ones that don't or change, and change ones that are not working for us