A case study was done in the basement of the psychology department at Stanford University where 24 mentally stable participants pretend to be prisoners or guards in a mock prison setting. The simulation was meant to last two weeks but was ended after 8 days due to concerns about the prisoners’ psychological health who lost touch with reality.
This might be an extreme example, but if there is anything we are good at, it is playing roles. Even when we know that the role is completely false, it is only a matter of time before it becomes our identity.
Your role in life is shaped by the people you grew up with, the stories you were read as a child, the dreams that inspire you, your peers who surround you, the mentors that guide you, those that try to derail you, the culture that shapes us, and hopefully, the God that created you.
I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy trying to fight this reality. In my mind, there must be some way to rise above this scenario where everyone typecasts me into a character and expects a performance that follows their script. I hope you have the complete awareness of self and external influences with the strength to view life from the clouds with your feet on the ground. I certainly don’t.
If I could be anywhere else or do anything else with my life than attend college in Western PA and run this race, I don’t think I would. I believe that we experience life in the way we perceive it be. Our location and surroundings are secondary to internal perspective. I can live life fully here, in Michigan, or across the ocean.
Even though life can easily become a game of make-believe, I am willing to live within that structure. I could waste my time trying to be completely independent from my situations and circumstances. I’d rather be aware of what is shaping the roles that I chase and make sure those sources line up with who God instructs me to be.
I’d rather know who I am becoming than fight an impossible battle.