You may be intelligent. Your intelligence quotient might be more than Einstein’s. You may have mastered in Mathematics. You may have understood the quantum laws of Physics. You may have spent years earning money. A game of Sudoku or crossword might be a trivial task for you. However, there is one question that leaves everyone perplexed and that is a very basic question- Describe yourself.
As kids in school, the first topic of every English class used to be ‘Myself.’ It seemed like the most mundane topic ever. We wrote the essay after having rote learnt it by heart. However, as we grow older, we realise that this hackneyed term has a deeper meaning to it. It holds more importance than just our materialistic likes and dislikes.
We may have a razor sharp mind but ask this question and see how one’s memory erases. A blank cloud looms in our head because we have no answer. Firstly, the truth is we barely know our own selves. Moreover, there are qualities which we all possess but would not like to acknowledge. It is there deep rooted somewhere in our sub-conscious mind but for reasons we probably tend to avoid admitting.
If by any chance, we do have the right answer, myriad questions fill our mind- How can one describe oneself? Are we supposed to tell our educational qualifications? Are we supposed to boast our strengths and reveal our weaknesses? Will I be singing my own praises if I tell about my achievements? Will I come across as under confident for having confessed my weaknesses? Are we supposed to tell our likes and dislikes? Will I be judged?
It is an easier task to ask others to describe another person. It is more difficult when we are asked to look into ourselves. It is always pleasing to look at yourself from an admirer’s eyes. We are our own critics. The best critics that one would ever find. We praise ourselves silently. We critique ourselves without shame. We admire ourselves. We condescend ourselves. We constantly think about ourselves but when someone asks to speak it all out loud, words fail us.
In this world, sometimes quantitative identification is preferred over qualitative. Ask someone to tell about himself or herself and the person’s instant reply would be about his or hers educational or job qualifications. We are more than the numbers in our academics and the numbers in our bank account.
We are defined by the company we are in. Our doting parents may have a very critical opinion of us full of expectations. Our friends will definitely enjoy describing us while pulling our leg. Our colleagues will give a judgemental review of us. Because every time we mask our true selves and put a facade of how to portray ourselves, we disconnect from the truth. We are absolutely original when alone. Being alone is the time for introspection for that is when there is just one person to be pleased and that is our conscience.
Any job interview or college application is incomplete without the question, “Describe yourself.” The difficulty level is increased when they specify to be precise. How can all our infinite characteristics be summed up in just a few words. Then again, just like students in school, we prepare ourselves. Learn a crisp answer by heart, sit on the hot seat and tend to describe ourselves as confidently as possible. But the truth is, we ourselves are not sure of the loyalty of those words for yet again, we are looking at ourselves the way we want to be perceived and not who we truly are. After all, it is a matter of career and no one would like to take a risk at this crucial stage and take a trip down the self righteous road.
The media often targets this query. Brands sell their products by using taglines which tend to describe oneself. A lot of self motivated chain mails snail into our email ids reminding us that we should be proud of who we are. Various self help books are stacked in bookstores and libraries to help us discover the real us. Counselling centres allure customers through various psychometric tests which guarantee to give an outlook of our behaviour, strengths and weaknesses. Walls are scribbled with graffiti of being proud of who we are.
Take time alone to meditate into finding an answer. We must not negate our follies instead overcome them. Even though, we must not be ashamed of who we are, it does not do harm to constantly improve into becoming better. Let us learn to find an apt answer to the most sought after question- “describe yourself.” Let us learn to flaunt our accomplishments confidently without being misinterpreted as arrogant. Let us learn to be able to confess our shortcomings without letting our self esteem come under the scanner. Let us get to know ourselves better.
In the words of Carol Channing an American singer, actress and comedian-
“When you try to talk about yourself, you do not know who you are, or what you are like, or what you are like to other people. And the moment you do it’s a formula for yourself, and then you are imitating yourself, and then nobody likes you and they do not know why.”