As kids, we always played. At home, school, church, you name it — balancing our homework and other little home chores with playing with our peers — oftentimes substituting the former with the latter. We’ve all heard the ingenious quote that states: all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. Further reiterating the importance of playing and relieving our bodies and minds of stress.
But growing up, reverse became the case. The rate of play reduced drastically. Life became serious. Everything became amplified. Thus disallowing us from playing at all or the same way or as often as we used to. Life happenings such as “higher” education, “high” paying jobs, or intangible things such as “high” aspirations became the order of the day. These things over time killed our mojo to play or play healthily. Instead, we adopted the unhealthy version of it called playing along.
Playing along, unlike our regular playing, is when we force-fit ourselves in places or situations that don’t tally with us. It is a temporal coping mechanism used in dealing with certain inevitable situations. It is when we act in dissonance to our personality due to fear or favor — most times unintentional. It tends to rid us of our true selves and makes us act by other’s beliefs and values. Placing them first before ours.
Once we feel the need to play along with something or someone in our lives is the crucial point for determining whether that person or thing is worth being in our lives in the first place. If you feel the need to play along within your circle of friends or family, then that means they don’t accept who you are as a person for you to mask yourself. It could also mean you don’t belong there. If you can’t express your authentic views, emotions, or thoughts to your partner and need to play along, it begs the question of whether they deserve the mantle you’ve given them. If you have to play along within your work environment, it doesn’t encourage you to give your best, and even if you did, not on your terms. Likewise in friendships and other life scenarios.
You’re just never yourself.
One of the main factors that contribute to playing along is depending or co-depending on people/situations/means to survive.
Lack of independence can lead to conforming to rules, values and beliefs which don’t tally with who you are all in the bid to make ends meet. For acting in dissociation to them may likely cause you difficulty.
Playing along may come in form of eating less, working out more, talking excessively, joking unnecessarily, you name it.
But playing along can only get us so far.
It is okay to play along sometimes, to avoid certain discrepancies, difficulties and negative energy. However, it should only be considered as a short-term strategy that doesn’t need to be overstretched. Not so doing, only makes us comfortable in not striving to be more.
That is why it’s important to target total or co-dependency issues from their roots. Once we know their cause, then we can find the solution.
It’s time to stop and think about the type of life you’ve been living while playing along. Questions like; why do I feel the need to fit into this circle so badly that it forces me to act out of myself? Does it benefit my life (in any stratum) in any way? Who am I? Is it worth it? The answers to these questions are mindful ways to capture this sham and re-navigate your mind and self to where it needs to be, doing what it needs to do, and on your own terms as well.
This means that refusing to play along will enable you to become more authentic, exhibiting skills and features attuned to your personality while adhering to your standards. There’s nothing more liberating than that. Yet it’s not so easy to achieve. But reminding yourself of what’s important and who’s important in your life will help you through that process — bearing in mind the invaluable quote by Dr. Seuss which states thus: “Be who are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.