The expression, “selling myself” has many meanings. Remember, that context is king when understanding everything. So, in this context, I am talking about presenting myself to others in a manner that helps them engage and ultimately agree with me.
Here are a few examples:
In an interview with a client the skills and expertise required are well within my skill set, yet, we have to go through the motions of presenting ourselves in a very niche and myopic manner in order to “sell” our abilities and personalities to the decision maker.
Facing an enrollment deadline for a course I am teaching, I have to “sell” my teaching style and content to prospective students in order to manage the numerical requirements so that the course won’t be cut.
Dealing with a matter in Family Court as an advocate, the prosecution is quick to jump on my credentials, asking me all manner of questions that they do not even understand in an attempt to make me seem incompetent. So, I have to present myself in a manner that “sells” my expertise and intention to the judge or jury.
We are always presenting. What we say, how we move, what we think is funny or sad, how we dress, and where we go are always telling others a little bit about us. Now assumption is a killer character flaw, but we sometimes have to work under the shadows of other people’s ideologies in order to be wise and cunning. Sadly. This is not a healthy place to live. It’s time that we learn to get out of having to make a presentation to others in order to succeed in life.
Hear what I am saying, not what I am not saying. I am not saying that we should throw all manner of quality or presentableness in the trash. I am focusing on the fact that there may be times when we have to put the features and benefits on for the moment, but when it comes to our person, who we are, and what we are passionate about, we should not be concerned with making the sale. We should be more concerned with finding those who accept us and share our path and vision in life.
In my grandfather’s office as a kid, a plaque hung on the wall at the back door that said, “Never offer excuses, your friends don’t need them and your enemies won’t believe them anyway.” I have that plaque in a box someplace and since the fourth grade, I have tried to live by that premise. But it is not possible. We need affirmation, we need to be what other people want us to be. (Not all senses of that are bad or wrong, I’m speaking generally). We need to move in life in a manner congruent with our calling and passions, being true to what we know we can do. If we doubt ourselves and have no real confidence, well, this is a good starting point in practice.
You are Unique
You are an individual person with unique ideas, thoughts, dreams, and actions. That’s what everyone is looking for, isn’t it? To be “one of a kind”? Well, congrats, you’ve made it. You are the only YOU that exists in the world. So now what? In truth, when most of us want to stand out and become something or get noticed, it’s not that we want to be unique, it’s that we want to fit into a specific niche.
There are millions of musicians, artists, lawyers, thinkers, teachers, and leaders. But, those who are well known, aka famous, seem to be the ideal for an aspiring person to emulate and ‘become’. But, these people are not unique, they are part of a larger mold and are so common, that everyone knows who they are. It is not fame that makes us special. Fame is driven by enslaved minds and infatuation. Honestly, those who are drawn to fame and famous people have yet to learn to think individually and are just following the larger crowd. And that makes them common, not unique.
So, focus on what makes you. What are your passions? What is important to you? Discovering how we are unique while being so common is a process that is worth taking. So what does it mean to be common? Well…
You are Not Unique
I know I just said you were, and you are, but you are also just like everyone else. Let’s consider a minute the fact that we are all on the same planet, we are humans, we eat and like to live, and we have many of the same expressions, ideals, beliefs, and interests as many other people. Even those among us who are extremely talented are not necessarily any more talented than we are. So, we are in many ways just like everyone else.
Even our emotions and thoughts are shared among strangers. When we find others who relate to us in these things, we realize we are not alone in the world. Therefore, we have these things in common, and in that, we are not unique. So understanding that even in what we think is true only for us, many others share the same attributes and characteristics. So, while we are not unique, we are also not alone.
Your Passions, Skills, and Opinions Make Sense
“No one wants to hear about me.” I hear this a lot from people. And it’s not true. Now, if “no one” is your angry neighbor or nosy in-law who treats you terribly, then yes. But believe me, someone out there agrees with you and has an interest in who you are. Someone said once that there will be times when people won’t endure sound teaching of truth but will find other people to tell them what they want to hear that will make them feel good about their opinions. I do not advocate for this type of nonsense.
I am saying though, that there are relationships, jobs, careers, and people of faith who stand in your corner and embrace who you are. My job is not to scour the world and set fire to the infinite alternate views that stand against mine and that isn’t your job either. Nowhere in any way is that healthy and for the Christian community, it’s prohibited. We have the freedom to stop trying to sell ourselves to others in a narrow way. When it comes to true friendship and family, we can share life and ideas, even when they disagree, with interest and compassion. Now that is a unique idea!
Your Friends are With You
I’ve mentioned before the plaque in my granddad’s office about enemies and friends. It is true. Those who truly love you are with you, even when they disagree. There is a manner in which those who love each other walk in conflict versus those who just abandon and avoid you. While many people will only know a small aspect of our lives and personality, our friends will walk with us when the ugly comes out, even when it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes, that means that love corrects and expects more, but that’s a different topic. The point is that you don’t have to try to be what everyone else wants because even if a change is necessary, those close will be close.
Your Enemies Strengthen You
But what about all those folks who are going to not like us? Well, good for them. I would rather live a life with fewer true friends than have an entourage of fakers who are miserable behind closed doors and can only see in me what they like. Believe it or not, when people are critical and unreasonable, when they malign and cause problems, it does make us stronger. It creates a resolve to realize that we are not responsible for being the ideal for other people. This includes the way we live in the world. For the believer, there is only one who sees, and He judges impartially. The truth of who we are is found within our journey. I’m not speaking theologically or anthropologically, that is, I am not talking about depravity or human nature, I’m speaking only of are personalities, interests, passions, and the like. These things are informed by our belief systems and if those beliefs mean we are to be on show for the world instead of being honest about ourselves, then they are not worth keeping. Freedom includes knowing the truth in all aspects of life, especially one’s own self.
Listen to What is True
Listening to the negative and engaging with the enemy is a never-ending battle leading to regret and despair. Slaying sadness requires changing our thinking, letting the brain get a bit chaotic so that the storms can spark the process of discovery. If someone came up to me and said, “I hate your purple hair”, it would not phase me one bit (I did wear a purple suit once by mistake) because my hair is black. People speak lies about others when they gossip or malign others and sometimes they think they are true and honorable. We do not have to engage or mold ourselves around lies. Ignore them and listen to what is true.
Part of Listening to what is true means that we can Ignore the Lies. We do not have to hear them as bad as they feel. Because if we do, even when the lies are our own thoughts and fears, it means that we have become enslaved to other people’s desires and passions. So how do we do this?
Listen to those who Love Us
Even if hard things must be said, we need to listen to those who love us. Don’t listen to the bossman who’s trying to get you promoted for his own gain. Don’t listen to the nosy family member always making your feel guilty. Don’t watch social media to see who is fussing and downvoting. Listen to the inner circle, and even then, do so with your mind open. Pay attention to what you know is true and listen for affirmation, listen for encouragement, listen for wisdom, not being told what to do and be. When we hear what others say about us it matters, but when we hear what those who love us say, it should make a difference.
Discovering our true gifts means that we are able to serve others, which is the point of life according to my beliefs. If we are not investing in the lives of others for true change and purpose, then are we just living for ourselves and our interests? What a wasted life.
Some of what I have said here may cause you to wonder where I am going. Don’t wonder, just ask. I write so you can understand what living life is all about and to have a conversation, well that’s about the most human thing on the planet. Let’s talk.
There was another plaque on the wall in granddad’s office that requires a whole new article. It read, “We don’t smoke in here anymore and we point to this with pride, if you feel you must take a puff, take your stinking butt outside.” I’ll let you resonate on that one.