As a part of my IT degree at uni, try I managed to sneak in a few marketing subjects. Marketing is one of those subjects that are really fun, but also make you inevitably become a more cynical person: like when you find out that the puppet has some person’s hand inside it, or when the guy in the Santa suit swears because someone kicks him in the groin. Finding out just how manipulated we are towards consumption, and specifically consumption of “luxury items” is one of the most galling discoveries I can remember making. I definitely had lectures that I felt dirty coming out of afterwards.
But naturally that didn’t mean it all went to waste. In fact in the days, weeks, months and years that followed, I (very) slowly came to a realisation: I am naturally a marketer. Not in a useful, make lots of money kind of way, but rather in the way that I attempt to control the perception that others have of me. When I’ve struggled with identity, I’ve tended to look to the perception that others have of who I am, rather than in something more central.
Sometimes the blog is a part of that. I’ve even caught myself having internal dialogue about how I “brand” myself on the internet. For quite a while I was very careful about who knew my blog address, and which circle of friends that related to. Some of that was around managing who I was vulnerable with, but for the majority of the time it centred on being a very deliberate marketer: knowing exactly what image I wanted to present to which person.
Gradually though, as I (hopefully) mature and grow as a person; I’m starting to be able to change that. Sometimes the blog has helped with that: there’s plenty of stories up here that could almost have constituted blackmail material a few years ago, and I’ve been partly using the blog as a way of breaking down some barriers I’d been putting up. I gave up being anonymous on here a fair while ago, but for the past little while I’ve made it easier and easier for people who know me to find my thoughts: regardless of where I know them from.
But more than that, it feels like God’s been taking opportunities to wake me up with bouts of losing face. The pattern goes pretty much like this: I’ll do something stupid, or act poorly, or just throw a good old fashioned 3 year old tantrum – inevitably in front of people I respect and want to respect me. And there’s obviously something really bad about that situation. But at the same time, I’m starting to see these moments of madness actually picking away at my carefully marketed image. When I lose face, when people find out that I’m not always the way I’d like to portray, I’m forced to re-evaluate whether that picture was worth painting in the first place. And even better, with some very accepting, forgiving (and fortunately equally vulnerable and broken) people around me: I can see that there is still something people can respect underneath the carefully positioned masks. Somewhere in there, somehow, I’m worth loving.