Are you a square peg in a round hole?

Feb 5, 2020

When I started my corporate career, I was keen and eager. I wanted to do well. I wanted to fit in. Obviously. I mean who doesn’t want to fit in? Plus, I was young and I wanted to learn from those with more experience. Take on board feedback. Be a good employee.

I remember one incident where I was actually told I was too enthusiastic. I was politely told to reign it in. My enthusiasm was likened to that of an enthusiastic puppy. At the time, I thought this feedback was reasonable. And so, I took on board what was said and started to “reign it in”. That was the first step to putting on my invisible straitjacket. Slightly altering who I was to fit in.

The need to fit in and conform was then further reinforced via my performance reviews. Assessing how I was performing. Assessing whether I was demonstrating the company values. Understanding what my peers thought of me? Now, that’s what I call a lot of judgement.

And so, subconsciously, I started to develop “work Maria”. She was a lot more restrained. She was very professional. She was very self-aware. She was a muted version of me. She knew what to say and what not to say. What was acceptable. What wasn’t acceptable. She was climbing the corporate ladder. It wasn’t until I left my corporate job, that I realised this. That I actually took off my self-made straitjacket.

I think a lot of us do this. Develop a persona to fit the situation. And it’s not just constrained to work. It might be the way you are with certain friends or family members.

How does that make you feel?

  • Does it make you feel safe because you can just blend in?
  • Does it minimise overall tension because everyone is seemingly getting along?
  • Does it maintain a sense of calm because nobody wants to disagree?

Or is it just hard work?

  • Is it hard work having to keep your opinions to yourself?
  • Is it stressful having to always go along with what other people want?
  • Is it frustrating knowing that things could be better but feeling powerless?

Why not just be yourself?

A word, which nowadays is overused but, that is very apt is ‘authentic’. In otherwise, just be you. We all have so many great qualities. Different points of view. Different experiences. Different ideas. This is what makes life interesting instead of it being bland. 

Imagine the freedom of just being you

Now, I’m not saying that this means intentionally upsetting people by disagreeing with them because there is a difference of opinion. I still believe in being respectful whilst also expressing who you are.

So next time someone asks you for your opinion I invite you to be honest and respectfully be yourself.

That’s ‘Are you a square peg in a round hole’ according to Mummy on a Break.

Are you happy fitting in?


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