Posts Tagged ‘identity

05
Sep
08

Change in Flux

Attending the state fair today reminded me that some things are timeless while others are in an almost constant state of flux. For us who embrace technology as a way of life, this flux has become commonplace. We’d be perplexed if technology didn’t change over time. In other areas of our life, consistency is something we treasure. I like knowing that the car keys are where I last laid them to rest. I take comfort from knowing that my basic route to the grocery store doesn’t change on a daily basis. This takes me back to the state fair where change and consistency hit head on today.

I haven’t been to this particular fair in 11 years, but walking through the gates this morning I was struck by how much everything appeared the same. The same booths, the same smells, the same variety of people. I went to eat the food and wander the exhibition halls, again, the same as 11 years ago, until I came to this one booth that reminded me I’m very much at the mercy of change.

It was a Mary Kay booth of all places and the random call of a staffer to enter a drawing that caught, and then held, my attention. I knew the face, but I couldn’t give it a name. Our faces probably mirrored each other as we tried to place the other. For some reason, looking at one of my companions helped her make the connection. I was still grasping as she chatted with my friend, and I had to glance down at a business card before it made sense. Low and behold, here was the wife of an old friend who didn’t stay a friend after the marriage.

The situation became somewhat humorous when she mistook me for a younger sibling instead of myself. After exchanging random nonsense, we moved on, and I was surprised at how swiftly my thoughts turned to that change in my life, when my friend was no longer my friend. It was a perfect example of how rarely we have any control over the changes that happen in our lives, and why, perhaps, we cling that much harder to the things that change less often.

I’m a creature of habit in some ways, but not averse to change as a general rule. I, however, like my change to come with an explanation. Change rarely complies with my wishes, leaving me to wonder why things happen the way they do.

Today was a reminder that I’m not the same person I was 11 years ago. And while I’m grateful and happy to be who I am today, parts of me still feel some regret for certain changes that have flowed through my life during those years. I think when we ignore this regret we cheat ourselves out of opportunities to learn more about who we are really meant to be.

Our current society and culture embraces change as a sign of sophistication, even wisdom to some. I can only hope that as we pursue the latest iPhone and tweet our newest friend that we don’t allow change to change our inner selves to the point that we’re no longer recognizable.

26
Feb
08

Self-Branding by Buying

“My Brand” exhibitionLast week, I touched on the idea of individual, global microbrands. Thinking about what defines an individual microbrand, I’ve wondered how the things we buy contribute to our microbrands. For example, what does my use of a Sony Ericcson cell phone say about me? Personally, I don’t think it says much of anything. However, what if I was flashing a Giorgio Armani Samsung?

The things we choose to buy and use invariably become a part of individual identities. Just try separating a Crackberry user from his device. Fair warning: there may be blood involved. As we go along, we add these smaller pieces to our identities, believing they contribute to the bigger picture of who we believe ourselves to be.

Somehow the Macbook Air says something important about you that no other laptop can convey. Somehow that Vuitton handbag makes a previously boring outfit a smashing success. Somehow, we end up believing that by adopting another brand as our own, we’re creating our own microbrand.

There’s nothing inherently evil about buying things you like. However, I do believe you’re on a slippery slope if you believe something external defines your individual microbrand. For me, the idea of a personal microbrand revolves around the notion that it comes from that uniquely you center of being. It isn’t dependent on buying a particular laptop or wearing designer kicks.

John Dryden in The Hind and the Panther included the very relevant line, “All, as they say, that glitters is not gold.” (link) The same principle applies in this situation, too. Using other brands to create your own does nothing more than build a shell. Under pressure, the shell will crack, undermining your efforts to establish your microbrand. If it doesn’t come from inside, how are you different from anyone else?

If she has the money, any individual can buy a Macbook Air. Does it really make sense to base one’s identity on a value that anyone else can purchase? When you decide to figure out what your individual, global microbrand is, keep in mind that it shouldn’t be a mirror image of the guy standing next to you.

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(Image courtesy of dadawan. Some rights reserved.)




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