Friday, December 28, 2007

Role Call

We’re all many different things to many different people: sisters, brothers, mothers, friends. In derby, we’re jammers, blockers, or pivots. These are labels that we can’t really shake – it’s what we are and who we are to those people we know and are related to.

There are, however, some roles we give ourselves that we can shake, but it takes some work. I was talking to a friend of mine last night about the roles she had assigned herself. This friend just recently came back into contact with her estranged cousin, and she was describing to us how she set herself up to be the “fat” and “crazy” one, while her cousin is the “tiny” “pretty” one. Truth be told, they’re both very “tiny” and very “pretty,” but these are the things we do to ourselves.

My friend explained further that she set herself up from the beginning of this renewed relationship. How? By constantly complaining to her cousin about her weight, how fat she felt, and how bloated she was. In addition to tearing herself down, my friend constantly told her cousin how tiny and pretty she thought she was. Now my friend is the crazy one with the weight problem, and her cousin is the pretty, tiny one.

Over the years, I’ve played some good roles, some bad roles, and some funny roles – like that of “T-Bone the Meat Inspector.” Some I’ve regretted (the sad overweight friend), some I’ve been proud of (the strong daughter), and some I’m indifferent to (did I mention T-Bone the Meat Inspector?). Some roles come and go, and some you keep around for a bit longer. These roles you or I assign ourselves have the potential to be positive or negative. So, if we assign negative roles to ourselves (fat, crazy cousin), why do we remain in them?

Some might say it’s laziness, but I think otherwise. As me and my two friends pondered our roles over many, many beers last night, we realized that we often won’t shake negative roles—or assume positive ones—because we’re scared we won’t succeed at something better.

But, the good news is that it’s totally possible to shake those bad roles and assign yourself better ones too. So, what do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher? A clown? How about a confident man or woman who gets whatever he or she wants? The key to playing a role and becoming it is believing in yourself. You can be anyone as long as you own the role, and soon enough, the role you’ve assumed becomes a real part of you.

As for Meat Inspector, that was a one-night role that my friends give an encore whenever they remember that summer night that I came away with that name. Let that serve as a warning: whatever role you take, it’s likely to be remembered!