Halloween is here again to excite kids in many parts of the world that has adopted this popular American holiday. It has aroused mild misgivings and even intense dislike among some; but for others it is a time for the young and young at heart to play dress-up in costumes patterned after occult figures, popular fictional characters or just quirky personalities.
Though not everyone shares this enthusiasm for Halloween, I feel most are familiar with putting on different attires or accessories and feeling transported to different eras or transformed to distinct personas.
Many girls feel different by just slipping into a pair of stiletto heels or having their hair up in a sophisticated bun. Some guys enjoy a trendy watch on their wrist or feel rugged in their leather boots. And stylish hats can take one to cute, classy, chic, elegant, hip, or glamorous within seconds.
Wearing my sneakers almost always makes me want to run!! I feel more feisty and energized. Using a piece of jewelry gifted by the people in my life instantly makes me feel warm and tender. Tying up my hair into a tight ponytail makes me a warrior ready to tackle the chores; and when I let it fall carelessly I am the carefree spirit in the mood to relax and play. A dot of striking ‘bindi’ can transport me to exotic India and traditional attire lends charm and ceremony to my mood. I love the feel and subtle sound of the silver anklet around my ankles; it makes me feel grounded and animated. I can keep going but I think my readers will have much more interesting examples of their own. Hope to hear of those in your comments 🙂
When it’s time to kick off those favourite shoes or remove a jewelry or change a hairdo we never experience pain; well, I believe, at least most of us don’t ;-). But when we have to relinquish, reverse or assume unfamiliar roles in life, why does it upset us? Why are parents, at times, reluctant to be a friend to their kids; and why is it sometimes a burden to show parental care for friends or even strangers? Are we not already experts in wearing many different ‘hats’ throughout our day? We all have many functions to fulfill. And have we not walked in various ‘shoes’ in our journey through life? Most are familiar with fluctuating fortunes in at least one aspect of their life.
Do the roles we play have a reality in and off themselves? Is our personality our birthright or a responsibility to be safeguarded? Are the relationships in our life a privilege that cannot be withdrawn? What if I felt that my shoes were a part of my feet or my tight ponytail has to remain so 24/7? It would make for a freakish lifestyle to say the least.
What if like outfits and trimmings, I can let go of my persona and roles without distress? The inevitability of change in life will surely feel less daunting and I will be able to flow and adapt without resistance. I can be a friend to a stranger; or help my friend like I would a sister. I am not obliged to uphold characteristics that limit me. And I need not fear nor suspect a trait that I’m not accustomed with. Life can be a lot more freeing.
This does not mean that I take on haphazard attitudes and neither do I give up my individuality. My personality, values and relationship boundaries remain, but they no longer dominate my life experiences nor control my choices. They are given a more balanced perspective and seen as merely an instrument to navigate life; no more a fixed feature than my precious jacket that warms me in the cold. My character, purpose and affiliations in life, no matter how cherished, need no longer define me in rigid ways.
By putting aside the idea of a permanent persona and espousing pragmatic approaches to my identity, I can engage in wider range of relationships and play multiple roles with the same persons. My self-contemplation, too, can take on a richness that is brought on by the openness to more diverse attributes. There is potential to be a lot more versatile, creative and embracing of growth.
Self-evolution is facilitated by this liberating idea; the process becomes more enjoyable and the changes easier to comprehend and manage. Life becomes a potential for splendid adventures with so much more to explore and experiment with.
Pluralism acknowledges that each community, and even individual, grants importance to different aspects of identity. Religion, ethnicity, gender, education, physical attributes, talents, skills, creativity, lineage, nationality, culture, pursuits, hobbies, accomplishments, values, integrity, morals, profession, relationships; phew!! …everyone esteems and cherishes distinct and often disparate properties of self. So even as I benefit from the freedom of a more flexible identity, I will accord similar charity to every other preference for self-identification.
If someone wants to be identified by the colour of their skin, then I acknowledge that; just as I honour the wishes of those who do not. Religion is not mere superstition for many and takes precedence when establishing their sense of self. Some define themselves by their morals; it’s not at all stodgy for them. Materialistic aspirations are not selfish in all cases and physical beauty is not always a superficial vanity. If one can gainfully utilize academic certificates in depicting themselves, why shouldn’t another choose to be identified with their attractive appearance?
An aptitude for numbers is no more special then the ability to kick a ball into a goal post. No part of our identity is less valid than another when appreciated from different angles. These qualities assume a different hue when seen within different contexts. Pluralism encourages conscientious attempts to understand, recognize and allow the varied identities to flourish. These can contribute to more considerate playing fields and harmonious interactions.
What specifics do you prioritize when contemplating or introducing yourself? And how do you regard and maneuver them in your fun and fruitful ways?