One of my absolute favourite things about Chiang Mai is the stellar quality of conversation I have with friends, acquaintances, and other people on similar life journeys. When you’re self-aware and brave enough to step off that well-trodden path, that shift in your mindset often means that you’re open to exploring new perspectives, asking probing questions and trying to get to the core of who you are.
I’ve had many enlightening conversations in my time here so far, and little by little, these new ideas or shifts or seeds of something new help me refine my identity and vision and voice. It’s an ongoing process.
Tonight, I had a conversation with my friend Eugene which covered a multitude of questions and rambling about who we are, what we want and how we can get there. And one of the things that came up was the stories that we tell about ourselves to ourselves and to others.
When you live in a new place and you’re constantly meeting people, introducing yourself becomes something you do without thinking. Someone asks “What do you do?”, and your standard canned answer comes tumbling out.
And that standard canned answer — it’s the story you tell about yourself, not just to the person you just met… more importantly, you’re repeatedly telling yourself who you are.
Imagine how impactful those words are.
Since I’ve been here, my answer to that question has not been an empowering one. It’s a descriptive answer that explains why I’m here in Chiang Mai… but in no way does it represent me, the value of what I do, and what I aim to achieve in future.
It’s a stupid, canned, thoughtless answer that minimises me. And I actually didn’t realise that until tonight! Me, the person who loves stories and knows the power of words — I was not aware of how I was telling myself (and others!) a shitty narrative about my identity and my life.
If I think back to how many people I’ve introduced myself to and exactly how I did it, I cringe with shame and disappointment. There was no passion or pride or assertiveness in my words. And it’s not even necessarily that I need validation from strangers (I’m an INTJ; I can live without that). It’s more that it’s a form of self-sabotage that I’ve been perpetuating.
“What do you do?”
“I work with/for someone” or “I write online content” or “I write (lots of different stuff)” or “I do a little bit of everything”.
WHAT???! No wonder I’ve been indecisive about what I want to achieve; I’ve been telling myself these self-sabotaging stories over and over again!
So the next time someone asks me what I do, this is what I’ll say:
I am geeky about personal development, and I create content for two websites in the team building and leadership niche that help people be more effective in their personal and professional lives.
BOOM. Damn, I’d feel freakin’ fantastic saying that. And it’s a truer reflection of what I do and it expresses that yes, I love what I do and I’m bloody good at it!
Naturally, this self-introduction will evolve over time. This first iteration would not have been true 3 months ago, but now it is. And I’m sure 3 months from now, there’ll be another slight shift. Like I said, it’s an ongoing process. But in the meantime, I can empower myself with a kick-ass introduction.
Here’s my challenge to you: how do you introduce yourself, and is it a self-empowering story to tell not just others but, more importantly, yourself?