We all have such grand ideas of ourselves. I don’t know how I appear to you (don’t know if I can say that I care particularly, either). I imagine myself as an adventuring stud! Handsome, generous, not afraid of anything. Able to woo any woman at my leisure with my quick wit and my sharp intellect. People love me and love to be in my presence, cause I’m a force to be reckoned with! Yeah… that’s it.
Of course, it’s awesome how someone (who I swear, just caught me on a bad day) can see me as the biggest jerk to walk the earth. They can mistake my gentle demeanor as being stand-offish. My clever quips as being sharp jabs at peoples conditions. My sweet naive nature as being too dumb for my own good. (this is just not a good meeting/impression. I’m going to have to suggest a meet-over.)
It’s kinda funny how our memories are skewed either to show us as the extreme victim, or we are the extreme protagonist. I’m reminded of one of my favorite television episodes… I’m thinking of an episode of 30 rock, in which Liz Lemon goes to her high school reunion. Liz Lemon, the darling of 30 Rock, gets an invitation to her high school reunion. She tells Jack, that she doesn’t want to go because she was such a loser back then. She recounts a story of her younger self, being tormented at school one day, with everyone laughing at her. She was defenseless and just mumbled under her breath when she hears laughter. She gets talked into going, and once she goes, we see her meet one of her antagonizers. Once we meet this woman, we can see that she has an aversion to Liz. This is when we get to see the real actions that happened at school. Liz was apparently verbally abusive to people. That is why she didn’t have any friends (not because she was a loser or anything.) It’s hilariously comical, but slightly true. It’s really easy to think that we’re making one kind of impression, when we’re doing something completely different.
When I was in school, I had a definite split personality. Lots of people saw me as just a regular cool type guy. I was even tempered and laid back. Some people saw me as the angry Justin. They only saw me at my most annoyed, or when I was at my last straw (I often was at my last straw with people when I was younger). There was a defense mechanism that I used (not too unlike Liz Lemon) where I would try to verbally disarm people who would be seen as antagonizers. Those people probably just thought that I was a smart mouthed jerk.
Even though I’m not the most concerned about what I look like to other people (surprisingly, I can have no shame…) I do think it’s important to market yourself well. You want to make sure that you’re doing things in the right way, so that people don’t find any blame in you. I am a big fan of people trusting me, so I don’t want to be out and about acting stupid and jerky. It’s something to be aware of. Self aware of the way that you are coming across to other people. Because even though you think you’re being awesome or even nice, someone else might think that you’re being short or condescending.
I get examples of this at my job. Being someone who works in customer service, I constantly get the lesson of appearances. I was chatting with one customer about a month back, when I thought that I was simply answering a question that he had. I didn’t really make any small talk, I just got straight to the answer of his question. He for some reason thought that I had horrible customer service, and decided to go on a rant. Amongst other things, he told me that I should look for a job where I would do something that I was more suited for, which in his opinion was shelving items in a store. It was beyond me why the guy was so angry, and it seemed to just grow even as I was apologizing for anything that I might have done.
We want to make sure that we’re marketing ourselves the best we can (and not in that fake: check-me-out-cause-I’m-so-awesome-you-can’t-handle-it type ways). There’s nothing wrong with being straightforward and showing people who we really are. Most people will be able to handle it. 😉
get out there and represent yourself as best you can!
I’ll be trying…