Who are you?
This seems a simple question, right?
Of course, we know who we are!
We usually define ourselves by our roles such as marital status, parenthood, sibling, co-worker and friend. We are our education, jobs, hobbies and goals. We are the sum of our successes and failures and everything in between. Our appearance, personality and character constitute the brand packaging of our identity.
Aspects which define us are a combination of organic, assigned, and self selected characteristics. We often believe that the way we see ourselves, or the way we choose to present ourselves to the world is the way we are viewed by everyone else as well.
This is not always true.
For example, I have a keen sense for picking up on certain personality traits. Especially those I dislike – such as braggarts, schmoozers, and snakes. I’ll let you define these for yourself. I tend to pick up on these types of behavior traits first, almost in a way of self preservation. They were triggers that mark the spot of my negative impression of someone. As soon as I sense them, I become wary.
However, these braggarts, schmoozers, or snakes likely view themselves quite differently.
The braggart sees themself as a success story, proud of his/her accomplishments.
The schmoozer is a networking opportunist, building relationships.
The snake sees themself as highly intelligent, cunning and ahead of the game – ready to make the necessary moves. (Hmmm, still not loving them. 😄)
Can my opinions of these assigned stereotypes change? Absolutely.
Given enough time, getting to know someone will usually help to minimize or dispel negative impressions, or sometimes even positive ones for that matter, and a more realistic version of an individual can begin to form.
You may not realize it, but there are hundreds of versions of you in the world, right now. None if them are the same, and the probability is high that none of them match your own vision of yourself.
Every person who crosses your path or interacts with you for moments, hours, days, months, or years is accumulating pieces of information about you and constructing an image of you and your position in their world.
Your coworkers, spouse, mother, friends, and barista all see you through a different colored lens.
You may be seen as serious, goofy, intelligent, beautiful, irresponsible, ornery, clumsy, lazy, annoying, loud, friendly, etcetera. Whatever. Someone has decided this is you and stick the label on the forehead of your picture in their head.
Some of these views may hit the mark, some of the time. They are quick and easy tags, convenient for quick reference. They do not tell your story, can sometimes be unfair, but once applied it is hard work to change them.
Much of the initial information gathered about you is likely based on simple things that are easily detectable on the surface. Your appearance, the way you move, how you talk, and your method of social engagement, habits and quirks, create a snapshot in the mind of others. You become a caricature of a sort, aggregated by a series of labels that trigger a memory.
There is no precision to it. Every version of you created is slightly -to- vastly different from one to the next.
Each of us is like a puzzle with pieces missing, a bit skewed in appearance from who we actually are, by the person placing the pieces, until all the pieces are placed.
The reason for this is that every person you come in contact with has varied outlooks, values, beliefs, and preconceived notions regarding the world and other types of people in it. Their view of who you are as a person will first be heavily influenced by the structures built in their mind based upon values, morals, culture and beliefs. Their attitudes and behaviors toward you are often a reflection of who they are.
But that isn’t all.
Even within ourselves, there is an unconscious storage space filled with different versions of ourselves. It’s like a closet. Who we are interacting with, or our moods, strongly affect how our mind decides which version of ourselves we’ll pull from the closet.
We don’t need to try too hard though.
The best thing we can do is find the balanced version, the confident and comfortable side of us. Because that is the one that comes naturally and is most likely to make a positive and realistic impression in the eyes of others.
So, who are you?
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