Why We Are All Like Onions

Yes, for the fans, I am about to reference the movie Shrek, that wonderful piece of cinematography. Honestly, who doesn’t love it? The life lessons to be learnt from these children’s movies can really be so insightful! And it was this one that struck me on Saturday night, as I rekindled my love for the film.

We are all just like onions.

And no, not cake, much to both mine and Donkey’s disappointment. Granted, ogres may not be real but I believe we share this one trait in common. Humans and ogres are just like onions, because “we have layers”…many, many layers surrounding the core of us. And as humans, we peel layers off ourselves all the time. Just think back to the person you were a year ago, 2 years ago, 5 years ago – do you even recognize them? How many layers have been peeled off since then? Looking back on my own life over the past 10 years, I am surprised I still have any layers left at all! But I view this as a great thing, because it means that I am constantly in a state of evolution, of growth and learning, and with every change I am closer to the person I want to be, and to where I want to go in life.


We all have layers of ourselves that we shed over time, in response to situations, events and experiences in our lives. Each time we shed a layer in response to one of these stimuli we become a new version of ourselves, ready to participate in the world in a different way with different ideas, perspectives and visions for our lives. Each layer represents a chunk in time in our lives and all of the experiences, growth and learning that occurred during that time that led us to eventually shed that layer. The conversations we had, the people we met, the travelling we did, the loves that touched our hearts, the adversities that shaped us, and even the books we read. Maybe it was just one thing, or maybe it was a culmination of things that prompted us to peel off that layer. Maybe it was done with gusto, in eager anticipation of the future; maybe it was done more somberly out of necessity; or maybe it happened in stealth without us even knowing, until we looked back in hindsight. Who knows? Maybe sometimes we simply just outgrew the layer! I’m sure there have been cases of all of these in our lives.


If I think back, the biggest changes I have made in my life, both personally and professionally, were in response to events such as these. A conference that turned my head upside down, a coach’s philosophy that changed my methods as a practitioner, a walk along the beach that crystallised my goals…the list is endless! By peeling off the layer and embracing the new version of me, my path took another turn and I was going in a new direction toward my goals, and each time I received many opportunities that I never would have gotten had I not changed for the better. My advice is to embrace the change and express your best self in each stage of your life, in order to keep going through this evolutionary cycle. Embracing this process with enthusiasm and faith rather than fear and doubt allows us to keep evolving and moving through a successful life; otherwise, we remain planted in one spot without ever exploring what’s further down the road.

What happens to us personally also affects us professionally, and if the changes are positive they ultimately help us become better professionals. In fact, most of the events in my life that instigated a peel were personal ones, and the results were changes across the board, including changes in my professional self – my job, my career direction and my goals. There’s no doubt that shedding the dead weight and peeling off some of our old layers will open us up for new opportunities, while others may take us in unexpectedly different directions in our professions. Either way, if we listen to ourselves and we are clear on our goals, we will always be going in the right direction. Isn’t it exciting to think what could be in store for each of us after future peels?!


The beginning of a new year signals a new start. Now might be a great time to take stock of who you are, and who you want to be moving forward toward your goals. Is it time for you to peel a layer and start fresh this year?

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