Bubbles

I feel like I live in a bubble.

Due to the current pandemic and being immune compromised, I’ve been in nearly total isolation for about 140 days and counting.

“I feel like I live in a bubble,” popped into my head, and it got me thinking about what kinds of bubbles we all live in, whether self-imposed or otherwise.

I have a family bubble, a friend bubble, a church bubble, a day job bubble, a musician bubble, a “me” bubble, and probably a few more I haven’t thought of just yet.

It’s so popular in our culture to talk about how we must keep each area (aka “bubble”) of our lives separate from the others, especially when it comes to work and our so called “personal lives.” However, is that truly beneficial and healthy?

I don’t believe it is. I believe firmly that I shouldn’t have to be one person at work, a different person with my family, a different person with my friends, and so on. Sure, there’s certain behavior that’s appropriate at home or with friends that maybe isn’t so much so at the office. Those kinds of things aren’t what I’m talking about here. I’m referring to having a completely different or almost completely different personality depending on which bubble I’m currently in.

What if the lessons I’ve learned from things I’ve experienced in my other bubbles would be beneficial to my work bubble or vice versa? Every experience I’ve had in my life whether good, bad, or neutral has shaped me into the person I am today. I can’t just leave that all at the door without becoming a very different person.

The Bubbles – It’s not a perfect diagram, but it illustrates my basic point.

Notice how each bubble in the diagram gets just a small piece of the authentic me and remain separate from the others. I’m never my complete, authentic self in any of the bubbles.

I’ve observed that this push to keep each bubble separate from all the others is turning us into fractured people who don’t know ourselves. As I see it, it’s causing a sort of mass identity crisis.

I know who society says I’m supposed to be. I know who my church says I’m supposed to be. I know who my family says I’m supposed to be. And I know who my friends say I’m supposed to be. But who am I really? If I strip away all of the external expectations, at the core of my being, my essence, who am I?

What do I value? What do I see as my purpose? What would I do if external expectations weren’t a factor? If I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, where would I choose to live? What would I choose as my career? What would my hobbies be? What kind of home would I live in? What would it look like? What “stuff” would I own? etc?

In searching for a new job this past year, I decided that I would go into any and all interviews as 100% me. I wasn’t going to become a different person the moment I walked through an office door. I decided that any company that didn’t want the complete ME wasn’t worth my time and effort. If they didn’t like that I’m a performing musician and music director, if they didn’t like that I’m creative, if they didn’t like that I think for myself and was looking for a company that would value me as a whole person, then this company wasn’t for me. Essentially, I put into practice much of what I’d been working on in therapy: coming out of my shell, being my authentic self, and advocating for myself. (See https://couragetofly.org/2020/07/12/courage-vs-confidence/ for more on that topic.)

Now I’m working for an awesome company that values me as a whole person. This company actually celebrates creativity and intentionally seeks out individuals with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. During the interview process, I was asked my life story. That was seriously the first question I was asked. When they asked that dreaded questions, “So tell me about yourself,” they weren’t looking for a list of work trophy’s and accolades. They didn’t want to hear about only my work bubble; they wanted to get to know the real me. I was asked questions about what gets me out of bed in the morning, what my passion is, etc. They dug DEEP. It was awesome!! It was the most rigorous and difficult interview process I’ve ever ben through, and you know what: I loved it!! I actually felt seen and heard and when I was offered the position my internal response was, “OMG….they actually want…authentic me!” I was SHOCKED and elated!! I’m still pretty shocked there’s actually at least one company in the world that feels the same way I do about this…

We’re meant to be whole beings. To be dramatically different depending on the bubble, is neither authentic nor healthy. If we do not feel safe to be authentically ourselves in any particular bubble, maybe we need to rethink our relationship(s) with the person/people/activities/etc in that bubble.

It’s time to pop the bubbles.

One “bubble” that encompasses all of me

What bubbles are you living in? What can you do today to pop the bubbles and live authentically?

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