Day 45 – I was travelling before the lockdown happened in India so was on day 10 of my self-isolation without symptoms when the Lockdown was announced on March 24th. I was happy that on my part I had done everything I could. Then I saw the ‘expert opinions’ that started flowing in from leaders, HR professionals, journalists and anyone else who could…
I was wondering what motivated people to share how lovely their food was, what they felt needed to be done and how others were wrong in ways they themselves were not? I was amazed that many of us would call this situation ‘unprecedented’ and have a clear ‘prescription’ handy in the very next sentence. I found my answer in a blog by Victoria Halina (Link https://blog.usejournal.com/the-psychology-of-social-media-why-we-feel-the-need-to-share-18c7d2d1236 ) . Quoting her directly, she writes…
‘According to psychologists Wilcox and Stephen in their paper ‘Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control’, sites such as Facebook can increase self-esteem. People tend towards presenting a socially desirable, positive self-view to others when online. In turn, this gives individuals an increase in self-esteem, but a decrease in self-control. It all ties in with the idea of keeping up appearances, and painting a picture to the audience that composes of our friends’ lists and beyond. Individuals can choose the information that they post, and keeping up a certain online identity increases self-esteem, but can mask our true personas. For the narcissist, this feeds into the need to be admired and the more reception a post receives, the more is fed into this type of behaviour. For the anxious, online interactions can translate into real-life interaction, and feed into the anxious feeling of whether people like them or not, corresponding with what kind of reception online posts receive.’
My take away was ‘Keeping up appearances’ as the key intention – How we see ourselves and how we think others see us? This is a question I have struggled with a lot personally, especially after I put on about 30 KGs over 2 years. In usual times, I will buy it if someone says that image matters sometimes even more than substance. But these are NOT usual times as I am sure you have realised.
Therefore, some habits need to die, habits that do not serve us as people any more and keeping up false pretences and ‘holier than thou’ personas tops my list. I am no expert but what I have learnt from hours of work, friends and family calls over the last 45 days is as follows:
- Everyone starts with ‘How are you doing?’ , I do, and I am sure you do too. But are you really ready to listen to the answer? Are you really ready to answer that? – I have started to say I am bored, irritated, happy looking at the rain, angry about seeing people hurt medical professionals instead of saying I’m fine and t is liberating.
- Pursuing perfection is very different from showcasing it. I was dejected after a conversation that I invested in and prepared for – a lot, ended after 90 minutes and I said nothing! It was helpful, it solved its objective and other people who knew more than me about the topic spoke. I could not help but feel like a failure in all this. If anything, I should have been happy as we got to do everything I wanted. Upon reflection, I realized that what I really wanted was credit and even though I did nothing in the conversation – I wanted people to give it to me. My intention, my purpose and my actions had gone out of alignment. A quick acknowledgement helped.
- Vulnerability came from acceptance. I needed to accept that the reality for me now will be different from what we had planned. My home, which was my private sanctuary, will have a lot more virtual audience. My best-laid plans will not mean much and all this cannot be an easy change. My self imposed need to look impervious to this was clogging the vulnerability pipes. Not until I talked to some people and said things that absolutely terrified me, was I OK with it. It may not be the same for you as vulnerability by definition is scary. So start small, with what you are comfortable but know that you must say it – if not to others, at least to yourself. If not by speaking, then by writing but you must say it.
All of this has helped me stay sane and focused. It has helped me restart my work and life in this New Normal which may last forever in our collective consciousness as the time we could say what we thought and judgement was replaced by listening and care. That is the choice I am offering you to make for yourself and for the people who matter to you.
These views are mine, they are personal and not that of my employer. I am happy to offer 30 minutes to just listen on call if you want to talk about your imperfections in the hope that it helps you accept your reality and acknowledge that ‘Imperfection is OK’ after all.