I found this essay I wrote this past winter for my Acting class. I thought it was interesting to read, and figured I’d post it. It’s interesting to think about the roles you play in your life to different people.
In my life I consider myself a social chameleon. I tend to adapt to my surrounding and mimic those I’m around, all the while still being genuine to my character. There are infinite amount of roles I could list, but I’ll mention the ones that seem to affect me the most.
I am a daughter. As a daughter there are high expectations, which drives me to excel at whatever challenge is presented. Failure is not an option. Mistakes can be an option- but only if I learn and don’t repeat them. As a daughter I act like a baby. I will admit that when I am in the comfort of my home, I feel as if I am allowed to be a child. I will ask my mom to cook for me or for my dad to sit and have philosophical conversations with me because that’s when I’m most comfortable. On the other hand, I can be very serious as a daughter. I can be very hard on myself, and will try my best to make my parents proud.
I am a sister. This role can be challenging but very rewarding. As a sister I am very protective. There were times in the past, where my sister would be made fun of because of her dyslexia or some other stupid issue, and I would immediately come to defend her and make those who laughed at her apologize. Bullying is not tolerated. When it comes to being a sister, I will be either more shy, letting my younger sister take the lead because of her strong personality, or I will take lead and try to be a good role model. A lot of my behavior is situational. But I always am looking out for my sister and wanting to protect her from the bad experiences I’ve gone through.
I am the sick one in the family. When I say that I don’t mean I am literally sick throwing up, I mean I am the one who has an anxiety disorder and Anorexia. This role for the past two years has been a dominant role, which I don’t like to play. I have gone to treatment for Anorexia twice, and I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and have been in therapy for that. This role can exhibit itself through my insecurities. With Anorexia, there is a high emphasis in my head about how I look. There were days in high school where I wouldn’t go to school because I hated my reflection and thought I was “fat” or “not pretty enough.” I remember waking up in the morning and trying on everything I had, crying and throwing my clothes around the room because nothing “looked good enough.” I still to this day, sometimes can’t go out because I am so self-conscious of how I look. Since it is a mental illness, I now realize that my own thoughts are not true, but two years ago I had no idea I had a problem, and my family didn’t understand. Since my family and I have learned what I have the whole dynamic has changed. When I’m home my mother treats me as if I am sick. And there are days that I do act sick. But there are days when I’m fine. With the PTSD my family doesn’t always realize what will trigger me into a behavior such as a flashback, or crying, or getting angry and snapping at them. As the sick one in the family the role has made me more quiet and reserved, letting everything build until I cry and tell them whats wrong. As the sick one I tend to want to be invisible and not be noticed, yet at the same time dying for someone to ask me if I’m okay. Part of me feels like I’m not allowed to show my emotions, so in response to that feeling, I hide.
I am a friend. As a friend my role can change depending upon the person. With my guy friends, I try to be one of the guys. I will try to make jokes with them and go with the flow. With the few girl friends I have I tend to be more “girly” which is something I usually don’t show. I will gossip about boys with my girl friends and will be a shoulder to cry on. With the guys I act tough, and try to seem put together and laid back. I am also, with all friends, a confidant, someone where someone can vent to. I like to be able to have people feel comfortable enough to open up to me. I like being able to give advice whether on romance or on which homework to start on.
I am the emotional one. One therapist once wrote a note, “Anna is the designated feeler of emotions for the family?” It’s true. My family is not very emotional. My parents are pretty much pure logic, and my sister can balance logic and emotions pretty well, but her logic side easily gets frustrated when I become “too” emotional. Due to the things that I have gone through in the past two years, I am a new person. I could say I have always been emotional, but once the PTSD set in, I was the emotional one. As the emotional one, with friends or family, I tend to express my thoughts and feelings more openly. I tend to me the empathetic one, the one with compassion and understanding. I will go out of my way to make sure people around me are doing okay, and if not, I will be there with them until they are. As the emotional one, with the PTSD, some people call me “crazy” and that is one word I hate. PTSD does not make me crazy, but it does make my emotional reactions stronger than most others. I also have a mood disorder that is on the bipolar spectrum, and that makes my emotions “volatile” as my mom describes it. I can be hypomanic and depressive within a day, which can be very confusing to the people around me. Because I can feel so strongly, that also makes me very passionate. As the emotional one I tend to get into whatever I’m doing to a strong degree, I can be a very good listener and advisor, and will always be there as a shoulder to cry on for whomever needs it.
I am the loyal and trustworthy one. To everyone I encounter I always tell them that trust and honesty are the most important things to me. As the loyal/trustworthy one my friends know that I am dependable. If they need me I am there. If there’s an issue, I will be there to take their side and support them if they’re right, or try to correct them if they’re wrong. As the loyal/trustworthy one I often get told personal things from my friends and family. They know that I am not going to judge them. Loyalty brings out protectiveness in me. Being trustworthy, I begin to open up and be honest so that the person will feel more secure in sharing what’s on their mind.
I am the pretty one/trophy. I get this from not only guys but girls too. Because of the anorexia I don’t always see it. But on the days I do, I act ten times more confidant than usual. I will have a strong walk, hold my head up high, and act like I am great. Not to say I don’t think highly of myself, because there are days when I’m low, but I do think that I am a pretty good person. As the pretty one everyone assumes I get anything I want. I get whatever guy I want, I can get things for free etc. Because certain people see me as the pretty one, I tend to dress nicely, or sexy at times because I feel that’s what others expect of me. I put time into doing my hair, and getting my makeup correct, and choosing that right outfit for the outing. As the pretty one, there’s also this unspoken rule of acting politely and like a “woman.” As the pretty one, I am the trophy to whatever guy I have on my arm. As the pretty one I get reduced to an object and not a person, and that will reflect in how I dress or act. This role is one I have a love/hate relationship with. One the one hand, I am flattered that guys or girls think that I am physically appealing. On the other, most times that’s all they see, or care to see, and don’t look deeper and assume I’m a dumb pretty blonde- which is not me at all! When I realize that I am in the “pretty” role, I will dress provocatively or sexy and will conform with people. I like the confidence this role give me, but I hate the fact that people will reduce me to an object to please them.
Those are the most played roles in my life these days. Some of them I enjoy, while others aren’t fun and can be very difficult. I try not to define myself by these things, but end up doing just that at times. I prefer to think of myself as someone who can adapt and be flexible when needed.
So that essay was very eye opening for me to write. I know that yesterday I was feeling like a sex object/trophy and re-reading this essay today was interesting. Sometimes I forget how I feel about the roles I play in my life and what roles I want to change.