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Friday, September 6,2019

Sybil Liberties

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

One of the greatest benefits of getting older is becoming clearer on who I really am and what I am all about.


Young people often lack the confidence, skills and life experience to narrow down exactly what makes them tick. Growing up is a process of trying on different personalities and engaging with different kinds of people, to identify which parts of ourselves we want to accentuate and which we want to discard.

I used to love the beginning of a new school year. One year I was punk, the next year a cheerleader. I went from Rizzo to Sandy in less than six months. In college, I minored in dance and changed my major three times. If people didn’t know me better, they might think I had Multiple Personality Disorder. Bear with me, I’m not making light of this affliction. In fact, it is one of the reasons I majored in Psychology. I really relate to the idea that there are many, many personalities inside of each of us, and am fascinated by the way these voices are socialized, controlled, or in the cases of MPD, out of control. So, even though most of us can gratefully say we have a firm grip on which faces we show in public, the reality is we do each have multiple faces.

True wisdom is achieved when I am able to integrate my authentic voice with my varying selves. Whether I am being mother, teacher, wife, friend, daughter, seeker, student, sister or entertainer, there is a common thread that weaves through all of them, so that none are ever in conflict with another. Integrity. Integrated self.

So, why the title Sybil Liberties? Finding this authentic voice is a lifelong project for most of us. Sometimes we’ve got it, and then something happens to challenge our balance and we stumble backward. Or we grow, and decide maybe there is more out there for us. The point is to never feel stuck in a onesize-fits-all life. If you think you’ve got it all figured out and life is comfortable, but you have this nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to try out for a toothpaste commercial, I say listen to that voice, Sybil. Your inner actress is trying to come out! In order for integrity to happen, we must be free to be multiple versions of ourselves. Try them on for size and decide which parts stay and which will be shed. As my mom always says, “Go Crazy! It’s a short trip.”


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