Sunday, January 26, 2014

Self Portrayal

(A year that starts with repeated travel. Off-contact again for the next five days)

The number of things I am mistaken in, if laid side by side, would probably stretch from here to Alpha Centauri. Among that multitude, there are still some that stand out, if only because they are the few that I have (all too late) realized to be mistaken impressions. The idea that people do not take you at your own estimation is likely to be the most prominent one.

It seems logical, does it not, that people would know that you are likely to be the last person to be able to see who yourself as you really are? That you would tend to overestimate or underestimate yourself? And, even if you could see yourself clearly, you were most unlikely to let on to the rest of the world all the warts you have OR were likely to concentrate only on the warts depending on whether you wanted the world to respect you or reassure you? Logical, yes, but when has anyone accused Homo Sapiens of being a logical species?

I can vividly remember my first days of working in Delhi. On my visits back home to Bangalore, I used to say, 'You wake up in the morning, rush through all your ablutions, rush to board your chartered bus, go in panting to punch in just in time, reach your seat and, then, wait for the tea to arrive and start wondering about how to occupy your time for the rest of the day." That was taken so literally that guests coming over would say casually,"I am reaching Delhi on Wednesday at midday. Pick me up at the station" with the understated satisfaction of having done me a good turn by giving me something to do on a working day. (Ah! Yes, my office WAS paying me for the 'grace' of my presence BUT that did not mean that they were all too willing to dispense even with that for hours on end.)

I changed over to talking about how my office was keeping me busy and how my boss wailed like a demon lover missing his mate if he did not see me every hour on the hour. Things changed rather dramatically. Guests solicitously checked with me about whether it would be convenient if they came at 8 AM on a weekday and, overall, the idea that my office would be only too happy to be rid of me for a few hours (if not permanently) dissipated slowly.

It helps, of course, if you really believed that your entire office would be nervous about their prospect of surviving a few hours of your absence. It would put that much more conviction into your performance. Yes, people may joke about your exalted opinion of yourself but they would, nevertheless, believe that you were one of the foundation stones of your office if not THE foundation stone and act accordingly. I, unfortunately, could never really see that person in the mirror and believe that the entire corporate world is periodically mourning their loss consequent upon my desertion of the corporate world AND this is why my success has not been as spectacular as it could have been.

It is not merely in saying things about yourself. What is more effective is acting like that the sort of person. For example, I tend to say things like,"There is little that I learnt at school but I vaguely remember someone saying that the Sun rose in the East". People, then, automatically assume that I cannot be right and, if and when they ascertain the facts and reluctantly conclude that the Sun REALLY rose in the east, would attribute it to a mere fluke.

On the other hand, let one of the others say,"I have assessed all the facts and come to the conclusion that the Sun rises in the west." Nods of agreement follow almost by instinct and, if and when they ascertain that the Sun rose in the east, they would only assume that the speaker had a deeper meaning in what he said. "Ah! He means that 'East' and 'West' are arbitrary designations we have given AND one could well have named them the other way round", says one. "I think he is probably talking of a time when the Earth reverses the direction of its rotation", says the other. The net conclusion is that the person concerned IS correct and only those who fail to see the deep inward meaning of what he was saying feel that he is wrong. Such is the power of Self-portrayal.

I look into the mirror again and that ass that looks back at me seems absolutely incapable of really believing that he knows all and his reasoning is invariably and inevitably correct. Without that self-conviction, it seems impossible to be THAT impressive.

I have now found a solution to my problem. I am going to change all the mirrors in the house. Convex or concave? Any suggestions?

36 comments:

  1. Demon lover missing his mate...LOL. Hope he is reading this.
    Concave or convex, doesn't matter. As long as we can look ourselves in the eye. Having led life on your terms, you can proudly say that!

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    1. I'm sure he is not :) Thanks Alka! Yes - leading life on one's terms does tend to make you pally with the mirror - any mirror :)

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  2. Concave or convex? Which is which? I really was writing poetry in my Physics class. I would go with the one that made me look thinner :-)

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    1. And I was sleeping - as I did in every class :)

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  3. 'I look into the mirror again and that ass that looks back at me seems....

    That has got to be a backhanded one to most of us reading here, sir. Thanks for the enlightenment! :)

    Happy journey to your mysterious meanderings out there in the beyond.

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    1. A backhanded one to my readers, Uma? ME?? NEVER! :)

      Ah! This one is much less of a mystery - I visit my bro. The only mystery is why networks fails to function in his area :)

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  4. He he he, yet again one of those 'self deprecating' (in quotes as most of the readers are probably holding out a mirror to themselves after reading this) posts of yours which invariably tickles the funny bone while forcing us to think as well.

    Although I know you have read and commented on this post of mine which is somewhat related to self portrayal, just thought I would link it up here for the rest of your readers to try and see if they can draw parallels to the same - http://mahabore.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/looks-dont-matter/

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  5. It is the fool who is convinced of his greatness and the genius is forever doubting himself.

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    1. And the world would take the fool for a genius :P

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  6. Convex or Concave, I think you will still see that "ass" just as you always see it :P and I am with you on that boat, come what may I always underestimate myself and fill myself with pessimism :)

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  7. Strangely my daughter today expressed her exasperation over convex and concave mirrors! Have fun on your impending journey...

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    1. Been there, done that now the next to Pune say after :P

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  8. Absolutely. I have so often been told whether I am right or not, to appear confident and act as if I know what I am talking about. This was when I was in IT itself where things are more certain and absolutes exist. Now in the consulting world where everything is grey and relative, that is the absolute mantra.

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    1. The more grey the area, the greater the role of self-portrayal :)

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  9. True. Sometimes we think we know ourselves, and only realize it only when others point it out for us. And mirrors, concave or convex..I'm sorry I always had this confusion right from class 6 ;-)

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    1. And sometimes others think they know you and.... :P

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  10. Mirror again :-D Nabanita said that she had written a poem on mirror..I wrote one..and you're in the dilemma "Convex or concave?"..lol..

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  11. Talk about the "Man in the mirror" :D Another good post Suresh :)

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  12. To your question - concave. It lets you see bigger than the actual size. Self-portrayal is all about it, I guess.

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  13. Self portrayal does have a lot of influence on how people view us....i have realized this over the years....self deprecation (not your kind) does pull down your status and in these times of self aggrandizement such those who blow their own trumpet manage to climb a few notches although many find them insufferable.

    Nice topic Suresh.

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    1. Even my kind Indu :) A humorous person is taken to be a frivolous person. Talk with gravitas and people respect what you say :)

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  14. So let us fall back on the modernist poets who have resigned to the fate of words not conveying enough, of breaking under the weight of author's ideas...Meanwhile you enjoy your trip!

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    1. Ahem! NOW I know why no-one understands me :)

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  15. Physics classes can be crazy. I remember being taught the difference between those lenses in the way they sent light through without any explanation about 'what the hell is a concave or convex lens'. Hmm. By the way , when u add ' I read recently in ' to your statement that would add immense value to the credibility . :)

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  16. Oh yeah! Bingo! Totally agree with you there! Ever since I've quit my job to be at home with the kids, people assume i have nothing better to do and they can drop in anytime. And ever since I've started portraying my freelance writing as a timed work from home job, i can see how the same guys make it a point to call up before they come!

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  17. Nice (my first of yours). Its just pretense a facade for everyone around parents, Spouse, friends, colleagues and the world in general that we keep. how would you ever know who that ugly mug looks back from the mirror. Concave for me.

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