Self Image: one’s conception of oneself
January 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
There’s a video that’s making the rounds of YouTube at the moment. It’s the same video made by hundreds of different people all essentially saying the same thing – I don’t yet know who I am, I don’t know what this year will bring, but I hope it all works out. EricsNewDay’s Self Image 2013 video has inspired a heap of people (including a couple of my favourite YouTubers, missxrojas and EmelieofNewGloom) to reflect on who they think they are at the beginning of a new year. The result is a choir of unsure twenty-somethings all singing the same song. I don’t know why, but each video response seems drenched in self-doubt and fear. Maybe that’s a reflection of the age of the videomakers or the general tendency at this time of year to look forward, but in each video there seems a lack of general pleasure in being the person one is right now.
As a twenty-something suffering my own quarter-life crisis, I can identify with a lot of the fears these people are expressing. Currently jobless, I feel that I’m at a messy in-between stage of my life that’s impossibly important. The decisions I make now will play a pivotal part in the course of my life or (more likely) they could just shape the next few months. This is a chance for me to sit down and think about what I want to do career-wise and suddenly having all this time to do just that is daunting. I don’t think I’ve done enough of anything yet to know what I want to do. I don’t have all the facts, I haven’t done the research, I haven’t asked the questions. I don’t even have a gut feeling to fall back on. But I feel like that’s ok. Even though I keep making a thing of being unemployed (which isn’t technically true, I do have a casual job), I’m kind of grateful for the time. I just need to work out how best to use it.
Recently, I read an article by David Wong titled 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. The first truth is ‘The World Only Cares About What It Can Get From You’.
One of the toughest things about losing one’s job is having to find another one. The searching isn’t a problem; browsing job sites has now become a procrastination exercise. The hard part is writing the applications. Over and over, rephrasing the same old drivel in an attempt to prove that you are a superb communicator with well-developed writing skills and experience in llama farming who has a good grasp of foreign policy and countless sandwich-making accomplishments. Not really, but you know what I’m getting at. It’s that each job application has key selection criteria slightly different from those that have come before, which means having to start afresh. But I have a theory that the difficulty I have with selling myself to prospective employers comes down to the fact that I haven’t really, truly considered what it is I have to offer. What can the world get from me? What can I offer beyond enthusiasm and hard work? Surely I didn’t work my butt off at uni for four years so I could claim enthusiasm and a strong work ethic as my most impressive characteristics. I know enthusiastic, hard-working kindergarteners. We can do better than that.
I’m asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world?
“You” are nothing but the fruit.
Nobody cares about your dirt. “Who you are inside” is meaningless aside from what it produces for other people.
I kind of believe it too. Manifestation is the whole point. How is what I am manifesting itself? Or does what I’m doing match up with the kind of person I think I am? If I see myself as creative, am I making stuff? Am I creating?
This year is all about matching up. I want what people see to be a true reflection of what’s going on in my head. I want others to see me as I see me. On my good days, of course. But I also want the reverse to be true.
Last year, near the end of a Canadian summer, looking out across the lake, I played a parlour game. We had to pick one quality of each person sitting at the table that we’d like for ourselves. One of my best friends in the whole world picked my determination. I didn’t know I came across as an especially determined individual. Half the time I don’t feel it, but when she said that, I really wanted to. I wanted how she saw me to match up with what I thought of myself. I want to be consistent; an open book.
Someone once admitted to me amidst the throes of the high school jungle that they never let anybody know what they were truly capable of. They played themselves down. They played down their intelligence and uniqueness, hiding these qualities tight against their chest, like cards in a poker game. The winning hand.
I remember thinking that that was the most stupid thing I’d ever heard. Why would you want people to think you’re anything less than what you are? Having to go about life in a censored state seems wrong (not to mention exhausting), especially when what you’re censoring may be one of the most interesting things about you. You can’t exercise a quality if you’re spending most of the time denying its existence.
So, how do I see myself in January 2013?