Reader QUIT: Playing the Wrong Part (by Luke Roland)

Life at times can be like a treasure hunt. We are all on a journey seeking who we are and trying to find what we are here to do. As we navigate through life, we can give up on the hunt and begin to conform by letting our identities by shaped by what we think others would want.

It’s almost like we’re actors in a play. We try to find the right role so the audience will love us.

There have been different parts (identities) in plays that I have acted in (metaphorically speaking) that I was not meant to play. I tried out for the role and got the part, but I was just pretending.

What Roles Are You Playing?

Many of us are playing a part we were not meant to play instead of being true to who we really are. Sadly, we often receive this pressure to be something we are not from those closest to us.

Some parents make it known to their children that they can only pick the career paths they want for them. Peer groups and bullies pressure us to act certain ways. In business, people are pressured every day to make unethical decisions they are uncomfortable with.

In The Phantom of the Opera, there is a line that has always struck me. The phantom says, “I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody.”

Since the beginning of time, we have been masking our true identities in order for the audience to approve of who we are. We hide our true selves for fear that we will not be accepted. Instead of being an individual, we now look like “anybody.” Instead of confronting the issue, we continue to play the wrong part in the play that is our life.

One wrong role that I took in my career was that of an event planner for a nonprofit. I was definitely out of place. I am a natural people person, but I was stuck in a job for a detail-oriented person. I tried so hard at the job, and I tried so hard to please the people around me, but it didn’t work. I was wearing a mask. It left me physically and emotionally drained. After every event, I felt terrible, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it.

Are You Enjoying The Show?

I’ve been asking myself some questions lately:

  1. Do I like the play I’m in? Do I like Act One? If I don’t, then I need to rewrite the script so that Act Two is better.
  2. Am I going to be happy five years from now playing this role? Do I need to quit playing this part? At any time, you can choose to be in a different role—the role you were meant to play.
  3. Am I wearing a mask? Who am I? Am I being my true self, or am I acting?

In terms of my event planner job, I had to come to grips with where I was and with my lack of fulfillment. I didn’t make a drastic decision to quit a job I needed, but I began planning my future and what I wanted it to look like. I began imagining where I wanted to be five years from now and what I wanted to be doing.

The future is coming whether we like it or not, and it is our responsibility to work towards our goals for how we want it to be. If I’m playing the wrong part or wearing a mask, then I’m not going to obtain the life that I want to live. To me, this is the most tragic type of play.

It took me a few years, but I am finally at a place in my life where I’m experiencing more fulfillment. I think my role and part in life is still evolving, and I’m still learning what it will be. My career finally changed, my family and I were able to move to our dream city, and my new career path is allowing me to give back and help those who are hurting. My life has changed more in the last six months than at any interval, and I began blogging as a way to inspire and bring hope to people who need it.

Be True to Your Part

Bronnie Ware, who wrote The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, said the number one regret is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

When you are on your death bed looking back over your life, do you want to have played the role you were meant to play or pretended to be something you were not? You will never be happy playing the wrong role.

There is a line in a Jackson Browne song that has always spoken to me: “Say a prayer for the pretender, who started out so young and strong, only to surrender.”

We are by nature pretenders, and when we pretend and wear a mask, we end up surrendering the identity and unique personality we have.

There are billions of people on this earth, and none of them is you. Be you! We don’t need you to be anyone but yourself. The world needs and wants originality, and we all bring that to the table. Stop pretending and don’t surrender.

Congratulations—you got the best role you could play, and that is you!

For me, I’ve decided to quit playing the wrong part and play the part I was meant to play. One of my biggest struggles has been trying to be something that others wanted me to be. I’ve finally realized that I can’t. I don’t want to pretend anymore or worry about the opinions of others. I want to live.

What part are YOU playing?


Luke RolandLuke Roland categorizes himself as a big dreamer. He lives in NYC with his wife and two kids and blogs at, where he seeks to inspire people to leave the familiar and pursue the dreams that are in their hearts. You can follow him @lukeroland.




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Image: Ryan.Berry / Flickr

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  • Darren Mullenix

    Hey Lukes, great article. Well done. Proud to have worked with you and watched you make that transition. And for anyone reading this comment, don’t misunderstand – Luke may have not liked it but he was good at it.

  • Hey Darren! Thank you so much for reading and for being an encouragement to me. I miss working with you and all of my friends in Boone.

  • Such an important message, Luke, and one many people go their whole lives without realizing. I’m so glad you saw the light and are sharing it with others (including my readers). Here’s to truly LIVING!

    • Thank you Kelly! I’m honored to be able to share on your site. I love what you have to say. I keep thinking about how life is a journey of discovery and I get excited to learn more about who I am and what I am created to be. I’m finally getting comfortable in my own skin!

  • Happy August, Luke!

    I’m sorry I missed this when it was new ~ I was traveling…

    You’re so right about the masks we all (mostly) create for ourselves – or let somebody else create for us – when we didn’t know any better how to resist them. Those are the hardest ones to identify because they’re so near to our core – not particularly “close to accurate”, but very close to the tender part that is Who I Really Am.

  • Tara Kimes

    Love this. I write about similar stuff…went from playing ‘rock chick’ to playing ‘librarian’ and am much happier as ‘librarian.’ Great article.