Too Many Hats
There are times when having a large collection of clothes is problematic. It takes up a lot of storage space. It is hard to keep track of individual items. Some articles may not match anything else we own. And we hold onto items that are never worn even though we say we’re going to – maybe they’re not our size, or they don’t really fit our lifestyle or personality.
Clothing metaphors come in handy when we’re talking about other areas of our life or lessons we need to learn. ‘If the shoe fits…’, ‘one size fits all…’, ‘the emperor’s new clothes…’ are all common clothing references – they can have literal meanings, but they can also be used to comment on accepting criticism, expressing individuality, and handling dishonesty.
Another clothing reference I especially like refers to ‘wearing too many hats’. It’s used to describe someone who has a number of different and separate roles they must play in their lives – each one requiring a different uniform. It conjures up a vivid visual image of someone scrambling through a heap of hats looking for the right one to wear from moment to moment. I’ve heard it used to introduce and compliment someone with a lot of responsibility, but I’ve also heard it used by tired-looking people describing themselves and their lives to me.
Despite the beauty of this clothing reference, what it could describe is actually a potential problem, or perhaps two.
Would you describe your day-to-day state as being constantly on the run? Do you have more obligations than you can count on one hand? Both hands? Welcome to modern living. This is not a unique situation these days. Being busy can be a good thing provided you have time to rest and relax, you are able to fulfill your obligations completely, and you aren’t feeling like you’re losing yourself. If you’re feeling any of these, but especially the latter, it’s time to check in with yourself to make sure you still know who you are, what you value, and what your priorities are in life. If you find you’re wearing too many hats, it might be a good idea to do an inventory to find out how you came to acquire so many and whether the collection truly needs to be so large.
Who are you? Do you compartmentalize the different roles in your life? Do you have a different personality for each of your social outlets? For many, it makes sense not to bring your job home with you, especially if you find yourself in a stressful job or one that you don’t particularly enjoy. You may also have a job where you can’t show the playful side of yourself that you save for friends and family.
Having very separate areas of your life can work very well for you as long as you don’t feel confused about your identity and what the ‘real’ you is. If your job, or your social outlets, or your relationships make you feel like you have to hide something, or make you feel like you have to put on a show or wear a mask, you might be looking at a problem in the making. Ask yourself if you’re willing to live that way.
Unless you enjoy having a large wardrobe and you have no problem keeping track of it, it might be time to start asking questions about your identity, how your see yourself, and what you believe is important in your life. It is not a bad thing to sit down and do some analysis and conclusion-drawing every once in a while. Ideally, we should feel free to inject the real us into everything we do, dressed up in a single hat with a beautifully multi-coloured feather.
Tara Bambrick is a life coach, educator, and professional writer specializing in loss, identity, mental health, and expressive writing as a healing tool. She offers personal coaching and writing e-courses.