How To Craft Your Public Image in 50 Years or Less

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses
and all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

I have been chipped and broken for as long as I can remember. It isn’t a bad thing. I think of it more as a mosaic. The pieces of me have been reimagined into an entirely new form. Oh sure I was put together in a reasonable fashion, and I was able to hide the cracks but underneath the façade, I have jagged edges, glued corners and tiny little tears in the fabric of my rough hewn being. It makes me interesting. Broken people are either one of two things: dangerous or interesting. I chose interesting.

I live what some would say, is a charmed life. I travel. I go to fancy parties and award shows. I wear ball gowns that I starve to fit into. I do my hair just right. I have footwear that costs more than most people’s weekly salary. My nails are perfect. My teeth are straight. I have smooth and enviable skin. I’m witty. I am sincere. I’m generous. I have meaningful conversations with people.

I am, however, a lie built upon an even bigger lie. I am an introvert and an avoider who subtly self isolates. I am inherently anti-social because I have trouble trusting new people. Intense case of adult "stranger danger" I guess you could call it. I spend more time completely alone not speaking to anyone than many people who know me very well would imagine. I speak to people for a living and when the day is done, I’m done. I exhale the chaos that is my typical day and I inhale solitude. I take off the mask.

As a young child I was as shy as I was quiet. As I grew older, I learned that if I wanted to succeed in life, I had to mimic people who succeeded in life. People who speak. People who engage. People who motivate. People who are charming. The necessitated letting the King’s men try to put me back together. I was becoming.

Something else. A facsimile of myself. I simply made a photocopy of myself and framed it and decided to become ‘her.’ I ascribed all the qualities that I wanted ‘her’ to have to the image I created. I put on the mask. I think we all wear masks to hide who we truly are because we are afraid that if people see the real deal, they will be disappointed. Underneath my mask, I am boring. I’m predictable and sometimes neurotic but with the mask on, I’m something else. I’m enigmatic. Mysterious. Gregarious.

We reflect back onto the world what we want to see in others. I want to see the beauty in everything. I learned the power of beauty very early on. Beauty is a tool that can be used to get things. It gets you jobs, opportunity, social status, attention – both wanted and unwanted. It gets you respect. It gets you noticed. It gets you ahead in life. So I reflected beauty.

I learned that humor was an amazing tool. I was naturally sarcastic and quick witted. If you can make people laugh, you are essentially manufacturing euphoria. It’s better than any drug, any drink, any anything. It gives you the power to command the room. So I reflected humor.

I learned that if you could grow strong, you could get on better in life. If you fortify yourself and make yourself immune to people’s judgements , it creates your suit of armor. If you focus your strength and channel it towards others, it bounces back at you and makes you even stronger. So I fought for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. I helped the disenfranchised among my peer group. I cheered on the underdogs. I didn’t and I still don’t, care what people think. This freed me to say whatever the hell I wanted. So I reflected strength.

I learned that giving is a great gift. For everything you give – be it time, money, a kind smile, a genuine hug, a present, your presence, a heartfelt compliment, your advice, a come-hither glance – turns you into something more than you would be if you only gave to yourself. This is the foundation of what will carry you through the tough times: karma. So I reflected giving.

I leave you with the words of the great Dylan Thomas:

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.