I met a brand educator years ago, with suit co-ord and glasses and a stern face…the kind you would get 5 year-old distress for not doing anything wrong. Yet, she walked in the training room and dazzled us with great verve and rallying engagement, nothing like one would have expected. “You probably think that I am a natural (charmer). It’s all down to the work behind,” she casually noted at the end of her presentation. I was 17. She was mid 20. Years later, I sit on my office desk, overlooking the inaudible conversation of a slightly younger colleague of mine and the rest of the team. Astounded and baffled, I find myself displaying a gregarious on-job temperament akin to that brand educator, something that the girl of similar education background, age and inherent qualities wish to process. ‘How can you be so comfortable in your own skin?’ she asked.
I am not. Nor the brand educator now that I think about it.
The truth is, aside from the unfathomable comments I received growing up as an insolent introvert due to my natural unwelcoming face and my hostile social experiences since teen years, I reckon my newfound public/work identity is more for my own benefit than pleasing the miserable souls who make no effort or whatsoever to get to know a person other than how one looks. The more cheerful extroverts I meet in social/work settings (thanks to my freelance working days and the opportunities that go with it), the more I am prone to develop a convivial character to break the unnecessary prejudices and judgements upon my ability. After all, it’s never about how good you are, but how good you are perceived.
So, for the season of family small talks and relative’s overzealous concerns over your study/career/dating/body shape situations, a second iteration of yourself is much needed to cope with the once-in-a-year demand of growth and improvement.
A little bit of good impression goes a long way.
Happy Lunar New Year everyone.
Text and photography: Hong Hiu Ching