no, meester bond,
Image by whatnot via Flickr

It doesn’t matter at all what you say about yourself. It doesn’t mean what other people hear from you when they are forming an image of you. An interesting thought I suddenly had when I was cycling from the University to my room.

I am not in a club or anything. I am not in a sorority. But I do attend parties. That was I thinking on the road. When I was thinking about others, I could place a lot of people to a certain group. That guy is in that sorority, she is in that club. Then I wondered: What would people be thinking I belonged to? I have a close group of friends where I hang out with. But am not always with them. I am with different people.

How do people get their image of you?

That thought led to a way more interesting thought. What do people think of me? When I am in a bar and somebody sees me, what would they tell their friends I belonged to? (Arrogant as I am, I just presume people think this sometimes) What would they say about me?

There it is. The most important thing about having an image. About the person you are in other people their eyes. Who are you? Where do you belong to? It doesn’t matter. What matters is what one person says to another.

What would they say about me? ‘You mean Stefan, that guy? Well, he’s just a crazy guy who is into a lot of things, not sure what his thing is’ probably. Or: ‘That is Stefan, he is busy with a lot of things, but he is a nice guy.’ Obvious, I prefer the last!

Everybody has a sentence. Think of two of your best friends, how would you describe them? Short right? You have an image and you can capture the image in one short sentence. Something like: ‘Alex is a genuine med school student, who steps up for the rights of third world countries through the IFMSA.’ Now, what would other people tell about you? Think of a sentence you want people to be telling of yourself.

How to modify your sentence

  1. You need to have your sentence clear. For instance, I would like to have something as stated above: ‘Stefan is busy with a lot of things, but in the end it is a nice guy who likes to help out others.’ This sentence needs to be clear to yourself. Something like the mission statement I’ve talked about before. I choose this simple, not-very-much-telling-sentence, basically because I do a lot people don’t ‘understand’ in one sentence. If it was possible, it should be something like: ‘Stefan is a med student who is author of a blog about a successful student life, in the Executive Board of one of the largest international medical student conferences and in the end a genuine nice guy’.
  2. You need to make this clear to (and only to them) your closest friends. This means that they know how you would like to be told about. In result, when they are discussing you with somebody who doesn’t know you that well, they can stand up for you and make it clear who you are (which is your sentence!). Again: Only to your closest friends, if more know this, it would become ‘fake’ in one way or the other. (Whoops, I’ve shared it with the whole world: I’ve put it online)
  3. Make it clear on your online profiles. On my personal site I’ve made who I am pretty clear. Check out this simple and comprehensive guide on how to make a personal site yourself. On your Twitter account, Facebook account and everything you can make this even more clear. From now on, when people are googleing you (because they wanna know who you are) they find YOUR sentence, which is created by you.
  4. Carry out your sentence in all your actions. If you want to be seen as a nice guy, don’t go out insulting/upsetting people. If you want to be seen as a busy guy, don’t do nothing on your Faculty. Perfect sense right?

Should you care about what people say about you? Probably not. I don’t mind if people call me ‘a weird guy’ (which happens). As long as the message is not bad (e.g. ‘A guy who can’t be trusted), I don’t care that much. I would like a positive message, but furthermore I find it a challenge if people have a weird opinion on me when I start talking to them.

There are situations where you should care though. In your first week of a new job for instance, or when you are trying to make new friends in a place where you’ve just moved in. Try to make the sentence people are saying about you as positive (and correct) as possible! Good luck.

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