Life works in mysterious ways. I’m seen as a completely different person from different venues in society. In this world, I play different roles with varying degrees of experience.
In my local Toastmasters club, I’m seen as a more senior member of the club with tons of experience in the realm of public speaking and communications. And sometimes, I’m sought after for advice on how to move the club forward from various issues.
In my local Buddhist organization, I’m seen as more as a beginner. As simply one person volunteering to help and learn the basics of Buddhism and contribute a little bit towards weekly discussions.
I similarly consider myself a basic practitioner in my philosophy school, where we hold weekly classes discussing the pursuit of inner truth and beauty, which I find to be admirable and purposeful.
In these three various community organizations alone, I play different roles and have different levels of experience. At Toastmasters, I am more senior. In my Buddhist and philosophy groups, I am more of a beginner. Either type of role or perception is fine with me.
I think it’s nice to be able to go back to the basics and just be a beginner again for better or worse. To start a new course from scratch. To learn something completely novel about yourself. I think serving as a beginner can also provide a fresh set of eyes to the experienced members of the organization. Maybe you can find something that they overlooked.
Sometimes, when you’re a senior member, people place higher expectations towards you. People see you in a different light. Which is both good and bad. It really depends. But it feels like you need to take up more responsibility for the group’s well-being, simply because you’ve put in more hours.
Thankfully for me, I am passionate about the Toastmasters mission. So I genuinely want to help that group achieve success and well-being in their activities. I try to schedule some time every week to contribute to the organization, and in turn it makes me feel valued and appreciated as a human being. So, it’s a win-win situation for us.
Every organization is different. Every group has their own rules and regulations and what to do an what not to do. And that’s okay. I think there is beauty in the diversity of roles that we play in society. I am a different person when I am working in the family business versus volunteering at Toastmasters versus discussion philosophy and Buddhism. I am different in many aspects of life.
It’s kind of impossible to be the exact same person day in and day out. Because it really depends on the context. And different groups ask different stuff from you. So, you almost have no choice but to play a different role and wear a different hat depending on the circumstance.
But it’s all a learning experience. And I think these differing roles add some spice and diversity towards your life, which can help make it more holistic and fulfilling. This in turn can perhaps bring on greater peace and satisfaction towards what you’re doing in your life as a whole.
So, there’s nothing wrong with being seen as an expert. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with going back to the basics and being seen as a simple beginner. We all have roles to play depending on where we are, and there is no right or wrong way to play a role.
Yes, of course, there are rules and regulations that we need to abide by. But for the most part, people are free to play whatever role they want to play in society. And it’s important to take responsibility for your role and your actions.
Even though I am a senior member of Toastmasters, I will still try to learn something new every time I interact with the members of the organization. I will try to help out every way I can and try to learn invaluable lessons from other people’s experiences. Experiences that I’ve never encountered firsthand on my own. That’s the beauty of give and take. Of listening to other people’s perspectives.
So, cherish your roles. Whether it be a senior level C-suite executive. Or a summer intern at his or her first corporate job. Whether it be a master pianist. Or a beginner level musician. It doesn’t matter. We all can learn something new. We all should play our roles to the best of our abilities. And we all have something meaningful that we can contribute to all aspects of life.