Presentations of Self | Week 2

In today’s society, there is an emphasis on presentation. Social media fosters this obsession, and each outlet does so in a slightly different way. What we are left with are several different versions of ourselves . . . all of which require separate modes of tailoring, crafting, and refining to present the best possible self for that particular facet of our lives.

Working in marketing & branding, I am hyper aware of presentation. Most of my work each week centers around how our content looks, how it compares, and how we can make it look even better.

In real life, we do this too. We present different versions of ourselves based on the social context and our surroundings . . . and rightly so.

Before a friend pointed it out, I hadn’t really thought twice about my living situation for the summer. I knew that I would be living in the guest house on my supervisor’s property. ‘Wonderful!,’ I thought. How convenient!

For the first few days, I thought a lot about roles and presentation of self. I am accustomed to being very formal with my supervisors. However, it’s an entirely different scenario when you’re greeting your boss first thing in the morning in your pajamas before you’ve had your daily dose of caffeine.

Living with other people is an intimate experience. No one can put up a front or a professional appearance allll the time . . . and you shouldn’t really have to at home.

I recognize the unique nature of my relationship with my supervisor, Jess. As the CEO and founder of Midsummer Tea, she is my superior and she has a distinct vision for her company. I really want to do all that I can to help cultivate this brand and boost her sales. I think I can learn a lot from her and from her experiences as an entrepreneur.

But, living out in the middle of the countryside of Sweden, she is also my companion: someone to go for a dip in the lake with, someone to cook dinner alongside, and someone to drink wine and socialize with on Friday nights.

I believe that for as many different versions of ourselves that we present, there are equally many roles we can assume in someone else’s life. So while Jess is my supervisor, she’s many other things too: a friend, a mentor, and many more. And while there are occasions where professionalism is required, I realize that most of the time when I’m around her . . . I can just be me.

2 thoughts on “Presentations of Self | Week 2

  • July 24, 2018 at 9:27 am
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    Hi Abbey,

    Thank you for such a reflective post. I agree that it can feel confining to act “professionally” all the time, and while being able to adapt to various contexts is a great skill to have, it can also feel tiring to constantly check yourself to see if you are presenting the right self. I’m glad that you feel like you can be yourself around Jess and really enjoy living in Sweden as your whole self.

    Something I really appreciate about your musings here is the reminder that everyone fits many roles and has a multitude of dimensions to themselves. When I meet people in certain contexts, sometimes I forget that besides their life outside of work, that they have had many past roles and past interests as well. Breaking that barrier to connect to more of their selves has actually deepened our relationships and also makes working with them easier.

    Excited to hear more next week!
    Jenny

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  • July 30, 2018 at 8:39 am
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    Abbey,

    I really appreciated reading this post – it’s a topic to revisit and reflect on as a professional as well. It can be really exhausting to be “on” all of the time, and your living situation certainly spotlights this. I’ll echo Jenny in saying how glad how I am that you and Jess have been able to strike a good balance in your working and personal relationships.

    I also think that this experience will inform a lot of decision-making processes with future supervisors and how you navigate those relationships to consider the whole individual and to also advocate for your supervisors to do the same for you. I’m looking forward to how your relationships with Jess will continue to change as you build more familiarity and comfort throughout your living and working experience. Looking forward to hearing more soon,

    -Josh

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