JULY 26 — In most social situations we can always see someone who is anxious to make a good impression. A person who worries about behaving in just the right way is not likely to behave better, even assuming there is a clear way of behaving better. This is true most of the time.
Ever since we are children, we are told how we should behave in different situations: at school, with siblings, with parents, and so on. We need to see ourselves acting in a certain characteristic way towards friends in order to understand, to feel as a friend.
Everyone see themselves after learning and seeing their own acting over a period of time. Individuals come to recognise themselves after a period of time. Only then can they reliably predict how they will act in certain situations. Only then can someone reasonably choose to “be you.”
Everyone must learn how to behave properly at weddings, funerals, in formal meeting rooms, on a job interview, and when being in a formal function. You have to be presentable on such occasions, you must know what to do and how to go about on such meets. All of the courtship rituals have to be learned. They do not come naturally.
People begin to understand themselves more fully by noticing how they feel and behave in new situations and in how others react to them. And this self-discovery does not stop upon reaching adulthood. Unfortunately, that image is not always as we would like it. We may come to see ourselves as clumsy or ridiculous or just plain unappealing.
It is common for people to try to present themselves as if they are more attractive and desirable than they really are.
A man may pretend to be urbane, and sophisticated, and poised. A woman puts on makeup carefully to enhance her appearance; and perhaps to obscure cosmetic defects. Isn’t this deceiving? No one would say so, because these behaviours are so familiar and common.
That someone pretending to know ICT, or some other educational programme, in order to get a job is not going to hurt anyone (except in some tortured meaning of that word.) And that seems to me the crux of the ethical issue.
Someone aiming to be not himself/herself should keep certain considerations in mind:
Do not aim to seem self-confident to the point of being arrogant. Avoid presenting yourself as tough and willing to accept any challenge from others. Avoid being a ‘macho’. It announces a superficial character. Worse is the image of someone “who is jack-of-all-trades’.
Do not try to present yourself as aloof and disinterested. Unattainable is not an appealing image. Neither men nor women should pretend to know all about various subjects. Lecturing on any subject becomes annoying. Certain ways of appearing to others are undesirable.
It would be nice to seem very knowledgeable about lots of things; but being competitive about how much you know is destined to lead to failure sooner or later. There is always someone smarter and richer; there is always somebody who knows more than you do. Don’t pretend to have special skills. You will be found out sooner, rather than later. Certain ways of being are very hard to sustain.
It is possible to pretend to be interesting, poised, cooperative, and sympathetic. It is possible to pretend to be kinder than you feel naturally, or friendlier. It is even possible to learn to be charming, but it will work you out.
It is reasonable, if we are deficient in some important way, to strive to be better and along the way, pretend for a while that we are better. In these matters, we become the people we pretend to be.
Persons with a secure sense of themselves can pretend in certain situations, in certain ways to be someone a little different without feeling untrue to them. It is like putting on a costume and playing a role, and later on, stepping out of the role when the play is over.
Thus, just be yourself.
* Azizi Ahmad is an educator.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.