Toolbox vs. Hats: Celebrate Your Whole Self
By: Ayla Khosroshahi, MA
“I wear many hats.”
I hear that a lot. Especially from women. “I wear many hats. I have to play different roles for different people.” Something about this has been bothering me lately. Not that I don’t get it. Oh, I get it. I feel it. I have lived that way for years and years. But something about the way that statement sits, doesn’t work for me anymore. It emphasizes a compartmentalized life. A compartmentalized way of living. These statements don’t empower me. They don’t help me be whole. One person. One full dynamic person.
I believe the way we talk about ourselves matters. Our narrative, our mindset, the lens in which we view how we live, shapes our lives. If we say we “play different roles,” and that we regularly switch “hats,” then we are constantly living as only parts of ourselves, and not our whole selves.
We were co-coaching a wonderful powerhouse of a client the other month, let’s call her Lilian. She is a woman, a business owner, a boss, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a mom (in no particular order). She had a huge gig coming up and we were helping her get her mindset right to rock the show (which she did, by the way, but I digress). One of the first things she said is, “I wear many hats” — there it was again! And suddenly I said, stop! No more hats. Enough with the hats. You are not Lilian the mom, then Lilian the boss, then Lilian the friend. You are Lilian, full stop. You don’t wear many hats, you just have a super packed toolbox! Your toolbox has been filled by your various successes and failures, your challenges and experiences. Your journey has filled your toolbox with resources. So in any given situation you don’t change your hat, you reach into your toolbox and asses what will work best in that situation. It’s not an identity crisis. It’s not a costume change. You don’t have many faces, or hats. You are a whole complete person. You can do many things, with many people, in many situations, and access your heart, mind, and resourceful hands to decide what tools to use when.
So no more hats. Embrace your whole self. You don’t have multiple personalities; rather, you are a person with a resource toolbox. A toolbox full of creativity, potential, knowledge, wisdom, resources, and knowhow. The language we use communicates messages to our brain, to those around us, and it shapes our reality. Be cognisant of how you approach your roles, and your characteristics. You choose how you see yourself and how you choose to talk about yourself.
Embrace you. You don’t switch hats, you are just wise enough to know how to show up in different situations. It’s all you. You are a full and rich person with an ever growing toolbox.
It’s your turn my dear NINJAS:
Take a moment and list out all the tools you have, all the resources you have within you. The skills, the wisdom, what your experiences have taught you, etc. Make a list. Get to know this list. Keep adding to it. Get to know your whole self. Leave these hats and titles behind. Instead of roles, look for characteristics and qualities that make you, you. That make you unique, that make you whole.
While this blog post is primarily addressed to “she”, it is in no way gender specific. This idea of toolboxes vs. hats is about connecting to your whole human self. Your whole empowered human self.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.