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What Version Of Yourself Are You Bringing To Thanksgiving Dinner?

Yvonne Marchese November 2022

Midlife Reinvention Thought Leader: Yvonne Marchese

I was listening to WNYC radio the other day.

What Version Of Yourself Are You Bringing To Thanksgiving Dinner?

“I think we all do a certain amount of code-switching.”

It was one of my favorite shows, The Brian Lehrer Show. They usually have a call-in segment in which they ask a question and listeners can call in with their response to the question. The question they asked on this particular day was. What version of yourself are you bringing to Thanksgiving Dinner?

It got me thinking about how we present ourselves in different situations. Do you find yourself acting differently when you’re at work versus when you’re at dinner with friends? Are you a different person when you’re at home doing chores with your immediate family or while you’re volunteering with your local community group?  

I think we all do a certain amount of code-switching. It takes a lot of energy, doesn’t it? By the time we get to midlife, it’s downright exhausting. We’ve logged way too many years trying to hide our true selves and present our shiny, happy, capable, confident (fill in the blank adjective) selves to the world based on the people or group of people we happen to be with at the moment.

Thanksgiving Right Around The Corner:

Not only do we have Thanksgiving right around the corner, but we are smack in the middle of the holiday season now. And for many of us that means family gatherings. If we’re lucky it means we’re bringing together multiple generations and family members. Some who, may or may not, have the same political views. (Way to go with those “alternate facts”, brother Robert!) Let’s face it, it’s a stressful time.  

Confession: I often find myself singing:

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” in a maniacal, ironic sort of way. (Can you hear it?)

So getting back to the question. Which version of yourself are you bringing to Thanksgiving dinner? Think of it like a costume party. Are you going dressed as:

  1. The Good Daughter?
  2. The Peacekeeper?
  3. The Black Sheep?
  4. The Political Pundit?
  5. The Stressed Out Host?
  6. The Long Suffering Mother?
  7. The best version of your evolved self? Namaste!

Which Version Of You Is The REAL you?

Which version of you is the REAL you? If you are adjusting your behavior for different groups of people isn’t it a good question to ask yourself why? What does it cost you to be anything other than who you truly are? 

I don’t know the answer to these questions and they will be different for everyone, but I think they are great questions to ask ourselves so that we can become aware of the cost of that code-switching and make some decisions around what we want to do about it.  

“Just be curious and notice how you’re showing up without passing judgment on yourself.”

Here’s an idea. Let’s play a little game where we use this Thanksgiving and holiday season to simply notice how we are showing up. Don’t feel like you need to change anything right now. Just be curious and notice how you’re showing up without passing judgment on yourself.    

Embracing Your “True You” Wherever You Are:

How can we show up everywhere we go as our real selves? Much of our role-playing comes from a desire to please other people. There’s a glitch in the system, though. We can’t really be everything to everyone. It’s a futile effort.

We can’t ever control how our actions will be perceived by others. When we make a decision to present ourselves the way we think will please others we are robbing ourselves and others of the possibility of true connection. Maybe it’s time to get off that struggle bus.  

You might feel so lost that you’re not even sure which version of yourself is the most true to you.

6 Strategies To Help You Get In Touch With Your Authentic Self:

1.) Notice What Feels Good: When do you feel the most like yourself? What are you doing? Who are you with? 

2.) Identify Internal vs External Expectations: When faced with a decision, take a moment to distinguish between internal and external expectations. Ask yourself if you’re feeling pressured to do something because it’s expected of you. Whose expectation is it? Is it your own expectation or someone else’s? Ask yourself if this is truly what you want. Listen to your gut. 

3.) Be Aware of Your Thoughts and ActionsPractice checking in with yourself throughout the day. Pay attention to your “gut feelings”. Notice when your shoulders are up around your ears or you’re clenching your jaw. Take a deep breath and see if you can identify the thought that’s making you feel stress. This will help you notice when you are being inauthentic.

“Changing a lifetime of habits and habitual thinking can be overwhelming.”

4.) Surround Yourself with CommunityTake stock of the people around you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and cheer you on. You might have to step outside your comfort zone and find some new friends. I’m not saying you should dump your old friends, but notice if being with them sends you into your old patterns.  

It’s The Small Moments:

5.) Take Daily ActionTap into what brings you joy every day and commit to taking action towards what you want. Changing a lifetime of habits and habitual thinking can be overwhelming. But, it’s possible through day-to-day actions.

Set yourself up for daily success by setting your intentions in the morning. Make time on your calendar to take a small step towards what you want each and every day. Baby steps add up!  Spend a few minutes researching that career change you’re thinking about, Practice an art or sport that brings you joy. Commit to those small tasks. It’s the small moments, the things you say, your decisions, your actions, that add up to who you are.

6.) Slow Down to Speed Up – When you’re working to figure something out or make changes in your life you might feel the urge to keep grinding and working to figure it out. But sometimes that just leaves you in a worked-up state of overthinking. This might be the moment to take some time to do something fun. Don’t worry, your brain will keep working on the problem in the background. Taking a break helps your intuition to kick in and the answers will bubble to the surface.

The World Needs the True You:

Aren’t you tired of seeing everyone’s perfectly curated versions of themselves on their social media feeds? How refreshing is it when someone lets their guard down? 

Imagine a world where we are all living our best lives and celebrating our “mistakes” and “failures” as learning moments. It takes courage to dive in and figure out who you are after a lifetime of play-acting. But when you do, you set yourself free. That’s when you can build a purpose-filled life that brings you joy. It takes practice and it won’t happen overnight, but with grit and determination, you can get there.

One last bit of encouragement… You do you this Thanksgiving! You got this!

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Yvonne Marchese

About the Author:

Yvonne Marchese is the host of the Late Bloomer Living Podcast, a professional photographer, mother and wife. At the age of 48, she realized that she’d bought into a story about getting old that was adversely affecting her health and relationships.Changing her story about aging inspired her to start the Late Bloomer Living Podcast where she is on a mission to redefine society’s ideas on aging and exploring how to live a life by design. Yvonne believes that midlife is filled with possibility, that it’s never too late to pursue a dream and that the stories we tell ourselves have tremendous power. Who knew that midlife could be so much fun? Follow Yvonne on IG –@latebloomerliving