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Too Many Hats

Too Many Hats

There are times when having a large collection of clothes is problematic. It takes up a lot of storage space. It is hard to keep track of individual items. Some articles may not match anything else we own. And we hold onto items that are never worn even though we say we’re going to – maybe they’re not our size, or they don’t really fit our lifestyle or personality.

Clothing metaphors come in handy when we’re talking about other areas of our life or lessons we need to learn. ‘If the shoe fits…’, ‘one size fits all…’, ‘the emperor’s new clothes…’ are all common clothing references – they can have literal meanings, but they can also be used to comment on accepting criticism, expressing individuality, and handling dishonesty.

Colorful Hats

Another clothing reference I especially like refers to ‘wearing too many hats’. It’s used to describe someone who has a number of different and separate roles they must play in their lives – each one requiring a different uniform. It conjures up a vivid visual image of someone scrambling through a heap of hats looking for the right one to wear from moment to moment. I’ve heard it used to introduce and compliment someone with a lot of responsibility, but I’ve also heard it used by tired-looking people describing themselves and their lives to me.

Despite the beauty of this clothing reference, what it could describe is actually a potential problem, or perhaps two.

Too Busy

Would you describe your day-to-day state as being constantly on the run? Do you have more obligations than you can count on one hand? Both hands? Welcome to modern living. This is not a unique situation these days. Being busy can be a good thing provided you have time to rest and relax, you are able to fulfill your obligations completely, and you aren’t feeling like you’re losing yourself. If you’re feeling any of these, but especially the latter, it’s time to check in with yourself to make sure you still know who you are, what you value, and what your priorities are in life. If you find you’re wearing too many hats, it might be a good idea to do an inventory to find out how you came to acquire so many and whether the collection truly needs to be so large.

Too Disconnected

Who are you? Do you compartmentalize the different roles in your life? Do you have a different personality for each of your social outlets? For many, it makes sense not to bring your job home with you, especially if you find yourself in a stressful job or one that you don’t particularly enjoy. You may also have a job where you can’t show the playful side of yourself that you save for friends and family.

Having very separate areas of your life can work very well for you as long as you don’t feel confused about your identity and what the ‘real’ you is. If your job, or your social outlets, or your relationships make you feel like you have to hide something, or make you feel like you have to put on a show or wear a mask, you might be looking at a problem in the making. Ask yourself if you’re willing to live that way.

Unless you enjoy having a large wardrobe and you have no problem keeping track of it, it might be time to start asking questions about your identity, how your see yourself, and what you believe is important in your life. It is not a bad thing to sit down and do some analysis and conclusion-drawing every once in a while. Ideally, we should feel free to inject the real us into everything we do, dressed up in a single hat with a beautifully multi-coloured feather.

Tara Bambrick is a life coach, educator, and professional writer specializing in loss, identity, mental health, and expressive writing as a healing tool. She offers personal coaching and writing e-courses.


  1. Melissa Melissa May 9, 2013

    I am learning to put only a hat and keep life simple as possibly as it can be ~ but there are also times when I know I could handle the other hats coming along and say, okay, I’ll wear them for a time not everyday. I’m learning to say ‘Basta (enough) for the day 🙂

    I checked my wardrobe and found only the clothes I really wish to wear.

    Thank you for sharing Tara with us BS 🙂 Lots of love!
    Melissa recently posted..SpringtimeMy Profile

    • Tara Tara May 9, 2013

      Hi Melissa, I think you are making a truly excellent point – it is really about knowing yourself and what you can handle. If it’s a three-hat day, and you know that is what you need and what you can manage, fantastic!
      “I checked my wardrobe and found only the clothes I really wish to wear.” Beautifully said. Thank you!
      Tara recently posted..Change, Love and AcceptanceMy Profile

  2. Lianda Ludwig Lianda Ludwig April 17, 2013

    As a creative, busy person I can really relate to what you’ve written. Especially since I talk about the power of words. Words are literal in our brains, so yes, the metaphors really describe the way view and live our lives. And the words we habitually use create our reality! So be careful what you say, and listen to what you say to see if it is truly what you want!
    Nice post!
    Lianda Ludwig recently posted..Shocking Discovery: Negative Self-Talk is Heard By AllMy Profile

    • Tara Tara April 18, 2013

      Absolutely, Linda. The things we tell ourselves have an incredible amount of power. Getting to a place where we can actually hear and understand what we are saying can take a lot of work. I think many don’t realize they story they are telling themselves is hurting them or confusing them.
      Thanks for the comment 🙂
      Tara recently posted..New e-Courses & Guest BloggersMy Profile

  3. Galen Pearl Galen Pearl April 15, 2013

    What a perfect analogy! I had not thought about how many clothing metaphors we use, often without thinking about the deeper meaning. I don’t wear so many hats anymore. Just a few, and entirely of my choosing. It makes a big difference! Great post.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..The More You Give, the More You HaveMy Profile

    • Tara Tara April 15, 2013

      Thanks, Galen. Feeling that it is about choice does make a huge difference. That balance between feeling free to try on something new, but remaining in control of the ‘purchase’ is crucial 🙂
      Tara recently posted..Some Thoughts on Personal CourageMy Profile

  4. Tara Tara April 15, 2013

    Jessica, you took the words right out of my mouth. I love guest posting and putting guest posts on my own blog for the very reason you’ve stated. There are so many people out there I’d never connect with otherwise, and I’m the better for the connecting 🙂
    Tara recently posted..Some Thoughts on Personal CourageMy Profile

  5. Jessica Jessica April 15, 2013

    This is a great post! I love the idea of using clothing as metaphors. I love guest posts as it gives me the chance to become familiar with other bloggers. 🙂
    Jessica recently posted..The Unsettling Nature of UncertaintyMy Profile

  6. Hiten Hiten April 14, 2013

    Hi Tara,

    It’s good to meet you. I really enjoyed your guest post. Corinne, thanks for having Tara over at your blog.

    Tara, your post got me thinking about the idea of wearing too many hats. I’d say I wear a number of hats at the moment due to the work I do. However, currently it is manageable. I think that the more one becomes multi-skilled (in a professional context), the more hats a person can wear. However, one needs to be careful not to wear too many hats. Or else real exhaustion or burnout could be possible.

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..How to Motivate YourselfMy Profile

    • Tara Tara April 15, 2013

      Hi Hiten,

      You’ve made an excellent point. Becoming multi-skilled in a professional sense, which I think is more and more important these days à la ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, is the new normal. What people don’t learn (formally) as they acquire more and more skills and roles (hats) is how to manage them. Suddenly, you have this amazingly skilled person who is burning the candle at both ends, and boy, are hats flammable!
      Tara recently posted..Some Thoughts on Personal CourageMy Profile

  7. Mary Stephenson Mary Stephenson April 13, 2013

    Very well put. I think we unwittingly find ourselves in that situation from time to time, as hard as we try not to. When I was working at a job where I was under a great deal of stress, I did lose myself. Now that I am out of there, I still find I take on too much. I am one for picking up the pieces and trying to make it all work. Not always possible.

    So I have been re-evaluating what is and isn’t working. Slowly I am dropping things and focusing on what is more important. It is a transformation in progress. Where this all takes me, well I am not sure. But backing off from what I imposed on myself has been more calming.

    Mary Stephenson recently posted..Who Goes There?My Profile

    • Tara Tara April 14, 2013

      Thank you, Mary. You are taking your health in hand 🙂 I like that you’ve used the word transformation. It really is. The whole mindset, the way we do things, has to change.

      I often find we take on too much when there’s something we’re avoiding dealing with in our lives. It’s easier to be just ‘too busy’ to deal with it. It seldom turns out well. The problem doesn’t go away, and the stress mounts.
      Tara recently posted..Some Thoughts on Personal CourageMy Profile

  8. Leah Leah April 12, 2013

    Lately I have felt the need to slow down and simply be. I just came off of a spell of push push push, which left me spiritually and emotionally depleted. I guess I was morphing into a hat rack. LOL! I literally had to step away from most of my self-imposed obligations in order to find the balance of my center. I’m still in a retractive mode but it’s a good thing. I will pick things back up one at a time, when and if they belong in my life.
    Great post!
    Leah recently posted..Caught With My Pants DownMy Profile

    • Tara Tara April 12, 2013

      You sound really in tune with yourself and your needs, Leah. That is fantastic. You caught yourself before something truly serious happened health-wise. Retractive mode can be a really good, healing thing. Banish the hat rack! (or at least lessen its load!)
      Tara recently posted..Some Thoughts on Personal CourageMy Profile

  9. Vrindavan Vrindavan April 12, 2013

    Tara, this was just really beautiful. I found it so relevant and practical. Thank you so much!

  10. Jas Jas April 12, 2013

    Very nice post Tara. Really intrigued by the idea of single with many feathers. Makes a lot of sense.
    Jas recently posted..CocoonedMy Profile

  11. Tara Tara April 12, 2013

    Hi Martha – Thanks for your comment 🙂 I very much agree with what you’ve said – being aware of the person beneath the hat (and other accoutrements).

    I love your article as well – especially the visuals. That tower of hats – both the photo and the cartoon – had me cracking up, and as much as I’m a one-hat-colourful-feather type o’ gal, I think I want my own tower just for fun 😉
    Tara recently posted..Some Thoughts on Personal CourageMy Profile

  12. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando April 12, 2013

    Tara, I absolutely loved your post! And, I love the idea of being “dressed up in a single hat with a beautifully multi-coloured feather.” We do play many roles, but should always be aware of the true person beneath the many facades.
    I wrote a similar post which I hope you will visit:
    Blessings to you, and thank you, too, Corinne, for sharing Tara on your blog!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!My Profile

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