Who am I, this I always wonder.
to this enigma I succumb and my will to explore, I surrender.
Am I wrong in doing so?
should I try to solve this steady and slow?
Known by many names and with
identity of people’s choice,
I may be loud and obnoxious or
an epitome of grace and poise.
But who am I?
With this thought constantly
brewing in my head,
I try to figure this out from
the dawn’s first ray till,
exhausted, I lay on the bed.
Do I have to be recognised
for everything I do?
or should I be just satisfied
and to myself, be true?
Recognition by whom;
By the ones who lift my spirits
or the ones who wish my doom?
Recognition as what;
As a person, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a lover, an inspiration, a poetess…
as with all these roles I play, with pride, I strut.
In today’s world of social media where personal information is shared with the entire world, and not just close circle of friends and family, do we place our value in the number of likes and comments? In other words is it others perception of us which adds value to us, or is it something else? Personal brand-building is enhancing the value of a person. It’s the value one has of oneself, or how much a person values himself/herself.
This value of oneself is a tricky thing. If you have too much of self-worth you might come across as an arrogant and narcissist person. You have too little of it, you acquire inferiority complex, zero confidence, and get treated like a doormat.
In a world of competitive culture our worth is always being measured against others. The comparison never ceases as it encroaches all spheres of life right from the time we get admitted to school, and may be for some from the day they are born. Marks, beauty, talents, careers, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife and what not! The list of comparison is never ending. And amidst all this comparison we try to hang-on to our accomplishments dearly to feel worthwhile. And when some Sharmaji-ka-ladka/ladki surpasses it the feeling of worthlessness sets in. We are back to zero and the world seems against us. Somebody has rightly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
So, where does one go from here? It takes all sorts to make this world go around and each one of us has been created uniquely. And the value we attach to ourselves is not something we should give control to others. It’s us that should have it under control. The following pointers will elucidate what I’m trying to say.
- Focus on being the best version of yourself:
In simpler terms it means maximizing the potential we have. For example in a game of football everybody dreams of becoming a striker and score amazing goals like Messi or Ronaldo, and be treated like a global superstar. But not all are cut out for it. Coaches help a young player identify his strongest attributes and help the budding- player mature into a position to which he is best suited. So the midfielder controls the flow of the game, the defender stops the opponent from scoring, and the striker has to score of course. It’s the sum total of all which makes a team strongest. And if one can maximize the talent at his disposal he will always add value not only to himself but to whichever team he belongs to.
- It’s ok to fail:
This is something which I feel is highly undervalued in this present day society. Failures are looked upon with such disdain. It’s an inevitable part of growing up. And the fear of failure prevents most of us to step out of our comfort zone and try for anything new. Thus, people opt for staying in the safe zone, not making any sort of attempt to do something different for fear of being branded a failure. Only if we fail we learn what does not work and hence we gain the knowledge of what can actually work. That’s why they say” failures are the pillars of success”. The first US President Abraham Lincoln is a prime example of this.
- Don’t aspire for perfection:
This point is an outset of the previous point. Perfection has the power to create inflated expectations and once we get that notion that someone’s life is perfect we always fall in the comparison trap that whatever we have is not enough. So many times we look at the FB profile of someone and see them in great jobs, travelling to exotic locations, married and honeymooning in Mauritius, and deduce that how perfect their life might be. This just creates negativity in us and makes us feel that our life is going nowhere. Our life may not be in the best of state, but we have to stay still, breathe in, and learn to enjoy the little blessings and bounties bestowed upon us by the almighty.
- Be gentle on our dear ones:
This is something which deals with adding value to the lives of our near and dear ones. Our friends and family are not perfect but they are the most important persons we have in our lives. There are times when we feel let down by them, be it cause of their behavior, their nature, or may be because they have stopped loving us for some reason. It’s our responsibility to try to understand them in a better way, listen to their side of the story, and help them wherever we can and be good to them. And if nothing works out we should have in our hearts to forgive them. It actually shows great strength on our behalf to forgive someone and makes us better persons, a person of value.
So let’s stay positive and keep believing in ourselves. Every cloud has a silver lining. Stay blessed and have a great week ahead.
This article is not about making your career or boosting your business. Even though branding has always been considered a business topic – to me it is very personal. It is to believe who you are, what you want from your life and declaring it to the world in a way that the world starts relating to you differently.
Branding is not showcasing you as somebody else. It is also not about wearing expensive clothes and driving expensive cars. It is all about how you want others to see you and relate to you.
Some 10 years earlier, I was involved in a course named “Landmark Education” and that course taught me a lot of things and one of the important ones was to learn how to confront others. We were given a task of taking interviews of people from different areas of our lives. We were given some set of questions that would make us aware of how we are perceived by people in that area of our lives. For example – I took interviews of one of my colleagues, one of my college friends, one of my cousins etc.
What happened while taking those interviews was that I was so very surprised at so many things that people liked and disliked about me. I was very surprised to know who I was for them. Some surprises were pleasant and some were not, but they were all surprises. That was when I realized that if I do not consciously take care of maintaining my image/brand, it will just get built on its own. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I stop being myself and try to put on a false show – it just means that understand the consequences of your actions and take responsibility for them.
That was the first ever time in my life when I truly understand the meaning of “Creating your own brand”.
Who are you seen as? What do your friends talk about you when you are not with them? Is it positive or negative? Are they making fun of you or talking about the great things that you have done? Or do they even talk about you? Are people happy to have you in their group or they simply don’t care? Who are you to them? These are some of the basic questions that your “Brand” answers.
How do you consciously try to create your brand?
Be true to yourself – Never ever put up a false show. It doesn’t work. If you try to be somebody other than yourself, people will see right through you in no time. It doesn’t work. Be your own self.
Be committed – It all depends on how badly you want to create a true brand for yourself. And it is not easy to do this. It takes time, energy, thoughts and a lot of work. Commitment is the key here.
Define your aspirations – Who do you really want to be? How do you see yourself 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Be very precise of your aspirations today, they will keep changing and you will see that change in you if you define it appropriately now.
Understand your strengths – As a culture, we are always asked to focus on our improvements areas. Sometimes so much that we forget what our strengths really are. Always play by your strengths and to do that you need to understand what you are good at.
What are your brand attributes – What is it that you want people should relate to you as? What kind of adjectives you want people to use for you? Once you know what your brand attributes are, you also need to understand why those things are important to you. Again your brand attributes will also change with time.
Once you understand how you want people to relate to you, you need to understand the current situation. Then start working towards creating the image or brand that is line with the attributes you defined earlier.
Working towards creating your brand could include anything – your social media profiles, your display pictures, the topic of your conversations with others, your posts on social media, your attitude towards others, the work that you do etc.
Few years back when I was talking to one of my colleagues in one of the interviews I mentioned earlier, he said that he doesn’t think I am as committed to my work as I ought to be and sometimes he doubts if he can really depend on me. This came as total surprise to me because I never thought of myself as non-committal. At that point of time, I made it a mission to create an image of me that is dependable and committed. It took quite a change of perspective to do that. I started communicating regularly what I was doing and how I was doing a certain task, I started being proactive in meeting small milestones so that big deadlines are never missed. And it worked.
On the personal front, I had an image of being a cry baby. Any argument with any family member used to end in me crying about it. I used to cry in a way that it would force the other person to just close the topic. I got this feedback various times and few years back I took it up to be more mature in my discussions/arguments with my family members. Every time during an argument I felt like crying – I would just tell the person that I am unable to control it and I need a break. That would give me some time to think about the topic and also come in right perspective. And it worked yet again. I managed to change the brand that I had created for myself.
So, think about it. What is your current brand? Are you happy with your brand? If not, then what do you need to do to turn it around?
Do animals reflect on who they are, and what they are doing here? Probably not. The question might arouse a mental image of a cow chewing grass obliviously. It’s not that animals, even the chimpanzee, the gorilla, orangutan, the dolphins and whales, but most especially your pet dog or cat aren’t extremely intelligent, because we know they are. But intelligence reaches a critical point, and, voila! We achieve self-awareness. We ask ourselves, whether we drop everything at the moment, or even continue with whatever it is we are doing at that moment (because we are driving in heavy traffic, or holding a baby or a hot pot of soup), “Who am I? What am I? How did I get here? If this world was made for me, if I am so special, then why haven’t I achieved greatness and the recognition I deserve?”
My answer is that, well, it all depends on who you are asking.
Identity crisis is merely the tip of an iceberg with foundations that reach deep in the misty darkness of time and consciousness. Even though our questions seem of the moment, really we all go through a lifelong struggle to reconcile social expectation with individual expression. The very signposts of personal growth must change from infancy to old age, or don’t bother asking at all. If you puzzle over your life’s meaning, then you’re probably accomplishing your purpose without even realizing it.
We want to be recognized by society, not for what it expects of us, but for what we believe to be our endearing attributes. On a sliding scale, perhaps on one end we think of ourselves as sexually exceptional specimens, with impeccable physical beauty, as I’m sure Kim Kardashian does. And on the other end we are selfless servants of society, with such a great connection to our spiritual foundation that poverty and obscurity pose no threat to our ego, like Mahatma Gandhi. It is natural to feel we have failed at life’s calling, whether our butt is still not as big as we had hoped (Kardashian), or not having yet liberated an entire country from colonial oppression (Gandhi). Expectations, they’re relative!
Speaking of relatives, some of us have experienced being infantilized by our family. That is, our parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and the people we grew up around still and always will treat us like little children, just as if we had never aged past nine years old. Even though we each grow older and wiser, there’s something about gathering together on the holidays at the dinner table that brings out the infantilizing riposte in my family. I could be the first man to walk on Mars, and my mother wouldn’t take my word for what’s happening in outer space: “Is that right, Jim?” she might turn to the opinion of my brother-in-law, who for some inexplicable reason would be endowed with greater knowledge than I, the only person to have walked on Mars. It’s humiliating, a real whack to the ego. All that work of being an astronaut and Mom still has to verify my professional opinion by asking my brother-in-law (a successful business man)!
I digress, but not too much. You see, we define our worth on the basis of the opinions and judgments of the wrong people—we can actually make ourselves sad and insecure because we are infantilizing ourselves! Sure, we are supposed to love our family. We don’t throw them away just because we have grown (and they haven’t). Just as civilization accumulates and becomes increasingly sophisticated over the millennia, it is possible we have exceeded the boundaries of the understanding of our ancestors in matters of who and where we are in this jigsaw puzzle of society. Better to just pass the potatoes, and let brother-in-law Jim expound on the rarified atmosphere of Mars, a place he has never been. Trust that the right people will comprehend our significance at the right time and at the right place.
Author’s Bio: Gregory G Lewis, is a psychologist, a social scientist, and a web programmer. He has learned more by watching the waves than from any book.
Sometimes I love to publish these quotes only to get some insights and inspirations out of it.
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