With the advent of social media, it has become commonplace to showcase the very best in our lives to the world. But, this is not really a new phenomenon. It’s just human nature to want to present the very best of ourselves to others around us. This happens when selfies are taken, portraits are painted, when we first meet an attractive date, or when we are facing an interview panel.
So it is not surprising that human society has evolved into one where we place an inordinate amount of emphasis on ensuring that our outward achievements – whether they be our immaculate looks, our impressive resume, or even our ability to conquer mountains and look stunning while doing it – are blindingly dazzling. These are the sort of achievements everyone can see and admire. Our high position at work. The svelte figure attained through grueling hours at the gym. That large collection of branded goods and clothes in the walk-in wardrobe, painstakingly put together from several overseas shopping trips.
The question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we chasing all these achievements because we want the admiration of others, or are we chasing them for ourselves? And I know the answer that forms on your lips as soon as you read this: Of course you’re chasing them for yourself. You’re your own man or woman, and you don’t give a hoot what anyone else thinks.
And I will be inclined to agree with your answer – if you can pass this test. The next achievement you’re gunning for, whatever it is – don’t tell anyone you’re aiming for it. And when you’ve achieved it, don’t let anyone know you succeeded. I know for some types of achievements, like winning an Olympic gold medal – such achievements can’t be kept a secret, but the principle stays the same – don’t publicize your own success.
Can you do it? If you can’t, then the next question to ask is – why? Why is there a need to let others know of your success, if you truly were doing it for yourself?
To put it more bluntly, does it matter to you if people know of your success or not? If it does – then you’re chasing the admiration of others. For one reason or another, you need that admiration from others before you can be happy with yourself.
But what’s so wrong about wanting praise and adoration from other people, you might ask. Honestly, if you don’t let it become an obsession, there’s nothing wrong with earning respect from others. So why am I bringing this up then?
Because if you spend all your time trying to earn the praise of others, then you have less time (or maybe none at all) left for your inner self.
Inner self? Sounds like meditation, doesn’t it? But no, I am not talking about something so spiritual and arcane. When I say inner self, I am referring to who you REALLY are inside. The side of yourself you don’t show to others. The side that likes certain things you feel others would disapprove of or find unbecoming. The side that makes faces at your own reflection in the mirror when you’re alone in the bathroom, or hums cheesy but catchy tunes to yourself when you find yourself in an empty lift. You know what I mean.
We spend a lot of time putting our best foot forward and presenting a perfect posture to the world. We may even spend almost every waking moment doing so. I’m sure the President or Prime Minister of the country you live in does. He or she has a reputation to uphold, after all. As do we. But no matter how hard we try, there will always remain that quirky, eccentric side of us that we are too ashamed to let anyone else know exists.
But you know what? We are ALL like that. Nobody’s perfect all the time, although we always try our hardest to show others that we are. So if that’s the case and everyone is just putting on a show for everyone else, the last question is – why? Why do you seek the praise and respect of others for being somebody that you’re not? Everyone’s perpetuating this facade, but it doesn’t mean you have to.
Get comfortable in your own skin. Be cool with showing yourself – your TRUE self to the world – and have fun doing it. Sure you’ll ruffle some feathers, but for the first time in a long time, you’ll be free. Free of expectations, whether real or perceived. Freedom to be you.
For some of you reading this, you may be feeling pressured by some people around you to be someone you’re not. Or it may just be a general idea that you can never truly be yourself with others. Don’t be someone else. Be you. It’s okay to be weird. Everyone else is, but they’re just scared to show it.
This is a song someone introduced to me when I lacked any self-confidence whatsoever, despite achieving this and that. The lyrics were meaningful and they changed my worldview – I was living my life in order to accede to the perceived expectations of others. Maybe it can change your worldview too.
Remember: Don’t forget your inner self. You can earn the praise of millions, but at the very end, the only person whose respect you really need is your own.
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