We juggle many hats throughout our life, always transitioning through different challenges and taking on our ever changing environment. Some people juggle hats that I am yet to experience for example being a mother or a wife. Others wear hats that I may never try for example being the CEO of a company (never say never but it’s unlikely). However the commonality that lies behind all of these hats is that we wear many of them from day to day.
If you were to analyse your typical day (not something you usually do but bare with me), you’d notice the various personas you take on. For example your professional one, the one you put on in front of your managers and colleagues. You have your family hat to which you probably wear more than one for example being a parent, sibling, child, husband or wife. Then there is your social one, the one that comes out when you’re sitting in a bar with your friends at 7pm and even this can vary depending on which social circle you’re with.
All of the various hats we posses we put on with ease, transitioning from one to another, with most of us seemingly not realizing. However, at the end of the day when we lie in bed stripped back of our daily duties, there is one hat that still remains fixed to us and one I think is the most vulnerable but most important. It’s the hat that defines the way we think of ourselves, includes our beliefs and our mindset. To me this hat is what makes up our mental health. Made up of our thoughts on our life, the world and ourselves, this hat is unique to us, no one can put it on nor know what it’s like to wear it because its ours and it’s fixed. If you strip away all the other hats we dutifully put on, it’s really the only thing we have left. It’s the most important one and yet somehow we often neglect it because we are too concerned with when we need to put the others on. Something I’ve noticed throughout my life is that our mental health is something that is SO easy to mask because of the many other hats we can and in most cases have to put on.
So what am I getting at here?
I’m getting at self awareness. At the end of your day, despite the things you fill your life with, those things do not define you. Your success, your children, your family, your achievements are all wonderful parts of you and your life however the way you think and the thoughts you are left with are what defines you. Your mental health plays a huge role in how you see the world and in turn affects all the other hats you put on. Something I’ve quickly learnt in the last year is that if you are unhappy underneath all the exterior, you can only mask that for so long. Unhappiness will slowly manifests itself into the hats we put on as away of avoiding how we really feel.
A dose of reality I get daily is when I see photos of my Dad as a child. One that is smiling, innocent, knows no malice, anger or stress. What pains me the most is when I look at those photos, I know how that smiling, care free child’s life ends. That later on, that happiness was stripped away by the unavoidable pressures and stress that can reveal itself in this life.
On the outside we can perceive people to have absolutely everything to live for because of the many hats they wear. But perhaps whats left underneath all of those hats isn’t a nice or comfortable one to wear. Talking about our mental health can be an awkward, uncomfortable conversation to have because of our fear of judgement, discrimination or the pressure to have everything together. But if by me talking about it can engage one conversation, even if it’s people talking about their opinion of me writing these types of blog, then I’m willing to let that be.
We all sometimes feel low, anxious and hopeless for reasons we don’t understand, nor need reason to. It’s just so important we talk about it, not just find another hat to cover it. Find a friend, colleague, boss, family member, online support group (the list goes on) but find someone to talk and let it out to. Sometimes our minds tell us things that aren’t true or things we don’t want to admit are there but if we shut that voice out completely , then we really have no idea whats going on in there.
We’ll wear many hats in this life but we only have one mind. Take care of that one.