As adults, we often meet new people and go through the stage of building connections to grow our network. I recently met someone and was engaging in conversation led by the typical questions: What do you do? What types of hobbies do you have? (you know, the generic stuff). After talking for some time and learning that he is extremely well traveled, has amazing commitment to his physical health, and has studied cooking for the past 6 years – I made the comment that his life was SO much better than mine and that I’m such a Plain Jane. I mean here he is traveling to Fiji, Amsterdam, and Spain while I’m couch surfing and trying to figure out what else there is on Netflix that I haven’t already binged. Then he said something to me, “If you don’t respect or think highly of yourself, how do you expect me to?” For a second, I was taken aback, I couldn’t really understand what it was about my comment that made him feel like I truly disliked my life. After a dramatic pause, I attempted to clarify, and we brushed right over it. Later that night, I really began to reflect on the image and perception that other people receive about me based on what I display. From such a small comment, someone I had just met, assessed that I might not think highly enough about the unique things that I have going in my own life.
I began to think about all the things I’ve ever said, all of my actions, the way I dress, my social media presence – essentially my entire package. Does the image I display translate differently to others than how I intend? Does the image that people perceive have a negative connotation? While my parents have always told me, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, the reality is it is a natural habit of people to place judgement upon others. It is naive to pretend that people do not judge. In a time where social media is very popular, we scroll down our timelines each day liking and critiquing the photos and captions of others. We walk outside our doors each day and make assumptions about the lives people live based on what they’re wearing. Even if you consider yourself a person who does not judge, that does not negate the fact that so many others do. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to clarify what I meant by my comment – he was unable to just judge the cover because I opened up and read him the first few chapters. However, there are so many instances in which we are not given that opportunity because you don’t even know you’re being judged and by whom.
It is YOUR job to choose the book cover that tells YOUR story the best. What does the image and perception you give people say about who you are as a person? Without knowing you, what would someone perceive about you based on your actions, how you speak, how you dress, etc.? While I believe it is important to always be your authentic self despite other’s opinions, I also believe you are your own brand and you must be strategic in how you market yourself to those only viewing the cover. What does your cover say about you?