Halloween. It's one of those rare days to go out and be someone you are not. You can binge guilt-free on candy and escape life for a night. There is something truly freeing about putting on a mask. Or painting your face. Getting away with different clothes. But that's not "me" you say. "I" wouldn't wear stuff like that usually... It's Halloween. It's just pretending you say. But there was a side of you that really had fun getting the spotlight that night.
There is something in us that knows we can be so many versions of ourselves. Yet, there is one that gets all the spotlight 98% of the year. It's the one everyone expects us to be. Do you know how impacted we are by how people expect us to be? How much humans try to just stay in the comfort of playing the roles and labels others view us in.
We got labeled something at some point. Loud, bossy, friendly, kind, rude, bold, confident, timid, a pushover, annoying, playful, smart, too much, too little, loyal, respectful, good, bad, bully ...
A group of 10 bullies were transferred to new schools. And the teachers were prepped. The teachers nor the kids had any idea it was an experiment. They were just prepped for their new kid. One group was told how lucky they are to have this kid. How smart he is. What a natural leader she is. How funny she is. How good he is. So, the teacher goes into the kid's first day and treats the new student the way they expected them to be.
The other group was told, "I am so sorry to put him in your class." They were told she could be dangerous. She is going to distract the other students. He is mean. He needs to be sat away from others and not be given slack.
Guess what happened?
These children adapted to act exactly how the teacher was prepped for them. The "bullies" in the classrooms where the teacher was told how great they are- they were not bullies in their new classroom. The ones that the teachers had bad preconceived notions about - stayed bullies in their new school. Each group acted exactly as the teachers expected them to.
How people think we are, it's unreal how much that impacts how we show up. Have you been the funny guy your whole life but something inside you wants to be taken seriously? You might want people to respect your thoughts and not always expect you to be the one to lighten the mood. Have you always been the one to say sorry first? Every time. And you actually really want to be the girl that stands her ground and doesn't have a need to apologize. Have you wanted to feel sexy and dress feminine but, man, people are used to you as the "tomboy" or "chill". So you show up tomorrow, how you showed up yesterday.
"Consistency. It's comfortable for them. It's comfortable for us."
What about packing your bags and going somewhere that not one person knows you. What if you got in your car and drove. And kept driving. And pulled up to an Airbnb. And took a deep breath and asked yourself a scary question: "Who would I be if no one knew me and I could create myself all over again"?
Wait. Does that mean the old me was fake? God, no. Is there really just one version of you? To believe the, "Be your true self" stuff, it's all really constricting. Humans are massive contradictions, after all. So back home you were your TRUE self. As you travel, there is another TRUE version of you that you can explore too.
I have a friend that used to wear exclusively tee-shirts and watch Hallmark movies for fun. Never could we get her dancing or on a boat. Today, after traveling for years, that girl wears the craziest wigs, rainbow-colored spandex, and dances under the full moon next to campfires and live music as often as she can. She is expressing a different, true version of herself that is playful and "woo-woo" and absolutely obsessed with trees. Nothing about Hallmark her OR tree lovin' her is false.
Maybe one version of you is bold but you want to sit back and relax for a while. Maybe one version of you is shy and you want to find your wild side. Maybe one version of you never dated and you want to tinder it up. Maybe one version of you is always in a relationship and you want to have space to be alone. Maybe you want to wear hats and dresses now. Maybe you want to meditate.
I hope for each of us that who we are in 5 years is not the us of today. If our 20-year-old selves were the same as our 30-year-old selves, that would be ... umm... embarrassing for me! The same should be true of every decade. 40-year-old you does not need to be the same as 50-year-old you. Be curious. Try out new sides. And not just on Halloween!
We as travel healthcare professionals are so lucky. We get a chance that most would just dream about. A chance to walk into a new location where no one knows who we are. Where no one is expecting us to be who we were yesterday. Go to your next assignment and ask the hard question, "Who would I be if no one knew me and I could create myself all over again?"
Cheers to reinventing ourselves as often as we like,
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