Tables turned


Today’s prompt was “Are you as comfortable in front of a camera as behind one? Being written about, as well as writing?

Now, anybody who has known me since my teenage days (or even my childhood ones for that matter) will safely vouch for the fact that I am probably the most reluctant of ‘posers’ in front of a camera. I don’t know what it is about the camera shutter (whether it belongs to a camera, or a mobile phone) that just makes me cringe in my clothes. I cannot, simply cannot bring myself to sport a decent smile for a photograph.

As a child, I had quite the reputation of being a shy kid when not in my elements. And given that my ‘elements’ in those days pretty much consisted only of the small passage in the compound of that rented house and the open playgrounds opposite my home and at school, it meant that I was most comfortable in the company of my friends (all of whom were boys) playing cricket or football with them, getting into scuffles with them, screaming my lungs out at my teammates for not being competitive enough or just having a garrulous time in general.

Even at family gatherings (typically large Tam Brahm ones where the entire extended family would converge), all of us boy cousins would get together, devise our own games and start running around the function hall busy with our own mischief. These were the only occasions when I was at my happiest, natural best. In fact, legend has it that I haven’t spoken to a couple of my girl cousins until I was around 20 yrs old and some of my aunts and uncles until I got married only seven years ago. At best, my reputation was that of a shy boy who loved to hang around other boys, friends and cousins and just run around wreaking havoc on the surroundings.

Turning the tables

It therefore goes without saying that I was not a ‘people person’ at all, in fact, I still am not. Back in those days there simply weren’t enough cameras or occasions for me to actually have to face the ignominy of posing for a photo at all. Posing therefore didn’t naturally come to me. And even when my father did buy a Kodak point and shoot camera, I was more interested in taking photos rather than pose for them. The very few ones in which I actually am posing, they are all full of awkward self-conscious poses and I cringe when I look at them today, twenty years down the line.

I don’t know what it is that makes me so self-conscious when it comes to people talking about me, taking my photograph or worse writing about me. Of course, the only people who want to write about me are my Project 365 Core Team friends who wanted to put up an introduction for purposes of the group blog, and I am sure they will corroborate when I say that it is the toughest thing for me to read about myself.

It is not a self-esteem issue in terms of how I look in photos or an under-confidence issue of what people write about me. It is not false humility when I think that it is too pretentious to write really good things about me. I guess it has to do with one value that I have been brought up with –don’t blow your own trumpet. From a very young age, I was taught that it is the world that needs to trumpet your achievements to others and not you yourself. Remember, these were the pre-Facebook and pre-LinkedIn days when publicity didn’t matter as much as actual achievements.

These were days when an ‘achievement’ was more than just walking 4.26 kms a day in 45 mins (which is what I use Endomondo to advertise as my Facebook status nowadays). An achievement meant putting in concentrated efforts, hard work, staying dedicated, focused and single minded on the task at hand. And honestly, I haven’t put in that much hard work for pretty much anything in life. It therefore follows that I didn’t like ‘talking about myself’ as much either through photos or in words; I still don’t like it.

I really would love to hear what you readers think about ‘self-promotion’ and your comfort levels with the same. Remember, I am not judging you here, nor are any of the other readers. We are just trying to get your perspective on this issue. So, feel free to hijack the comments section if required.


This post was written for the prompt provided by Project 365 : A post a day where the objective is to write at least one post based on the prompts provided.

23 thoughts on “Tables turned

  1. Being a raging loner myself I hate attention. I don’t like taking selfies nor do I enjoy people’s excessive scrutiny of me. Although I have to admit hearing people praise my limited set to qualities once in a while helps with my low self esteem. Feel free to do that once in a while 😉 😛

    • @indianhumor, yes, apart from the times that I am really looking for some external reinforcement of my strengths, I also cringe when am in the spotlight

  2. I am quite comfortable with posing for photographs and with being written/spoken about.

    I do ‘self-promotion’, mostly in professional matters, very rarely in personal life, without making false or exaggerated claims, without twisting or hiding any inconvenient facts, and without running others down.

    • @Pro, good for you, while I am somewhat Ok doing ‘self promotion’ in my personal life, I cannot bring myself to do it professionally at all, and that probably explains why I am still scraping the bottom of the vessel I guess 🙂

  3. I suck at it.

    I agree that it’s the values that you’re brought up with. In our house success and status never entered the discussion. Whenever I ‘achieved’ things, my parents were quick to point out that there are many people out there who are at least as deserving as me who never will get my opportunities. So every ‘achievement’ was an occasion to feel grateful. Failure was also dealt with summarily: all that mattered was that you gave your best. No point crying over it.

    This ended up making me extremely balanced (most people mistake that for humility), but terribly unsuited for the selfie world of today. I’ve recently discovered that blogging allows me to both be myself and build my ‘brand’ (I hate that word), so for the first time in almost forever, I’m not feeling clueless as to how to go about it.

    But yes, by any conventional standard and to any neutral observer, I suck at it.

    • @Sharath, so true, it is only when you have started blogging that I have had an opportunity to know the person behind the books and writing I enjoy so much. Am sure it will go a long way in building the ‘brand’ itself 🙂

      As for selfies, and the ‘buy my books here’ links on Facebook and Twitter, from your status updates and posts it is quite clear that you aren’t in this for the ‘short run’ and are trying to sell as many books as you possibly can in a short time, like some of your other peers are 🙂

  4. I too do badly when it comes to speaking about myself and mostly for the same reason that I was given to believe that its not good to blow your own trumpet. I was raised in a family where they thought overt praise spoils the kids ( my parents, old fashioned as they are, never looked at it as a motivation or reinforcing positive qualities etc). and I am yet to find out if I did anything worth blowing a trumpet.
    Not only this inherent programing but additionally I also require a very willing listener to be able to open myself up (that makes things worse) to the other person to tell what I feel /think.
    Don’t even talk of photographs. I am singlehandedly capable of spoiling all the group photos by sporting an awkward smile .My shutterbug husband finds it a huge challenge to get a decent photo ,with I posing in it , to be shared with other people in the family.

    • @kirti, I seem to have had a similar upbringing as yours and that explains the reason behind this post 🙂 In any case, as far as praise is considered I am relatively more generous with my daughter when compared to how my parents were with me 🙂

      As for photographs, marriage and subsequent fatherhood have managed to make a small change in me as far as giving decent poses in front of the camera are concerned 🙂

  5. I was an extremely shy child but slowly opened up when I got older. I think there is a fine balance between sharing your achievements (no matter how small) with our friends and blowing every small inconsequential thing about us out of proportion. What is more and what is less is very subjective. I really don’t know what to say. One thing is certain bloggers are much more vocal than an average person.

    • @Rachna, even as a blogger, I personally believe that I lag behind when it comes to self promotion, maybe that is because I am not even remotely interested in ‘monetizing’ my blogs at all 🙂

  6. Hmm! I took a long time to open up to girls and once a girl came to speak to me I was so scared. I am also like in the sense that I let my work speak up but there is nothing wrong in selling us, hence, blowing our own trumpet. I feel people need to know about our work and if we don’t sell ourselves, who will?

    • @Vishal, opening up to girls was something I didn’t do at all for the first fifteen years of my life, and even today it is something that I am not comfortable with.

      As for ‘letting people know about my work’, I don’t work with that purpose in mind at all, neither personally nor professionally and so it really doesn’t matter to me at all 🙂

  7. I dont know about self promotion..but I HATE getting myself clicked…a childhood scar of being fat and full of pimples..I could have auditioned for the zee horror show and got into without the audition….even though I am 32 now, I am still very very camera shy..I hate to get my pics clicked and our wedding photographer had a very very hard time trying to capture the right pics..RD loves to take pics..unfortunately both the women in his life currently HATE to get themselves clicked..

    don’t blow your own trumpet – Yep..thats been ingrained since childhood and thats what makes me so shy to promote myself…RD always tells me ‘crying babies get milk’ but somehow, I am just not comfortable with self promotion 🙂

    • @R’s Mom, notice how RD tells you ‘crying babies’, now, who wants to be known as a ‘crybaby’ 😀 And that precisely is the reason I absolutely detest self promotion at all.

  8. Jai, I believe in professional life it becomes necessary to not let yourself get buried underneath the piles to avoid becoming redundant. If not blowing your own trumpet, you should at least highlight the work that you do. Or else I have seen people hijacking your efforts and taking credits. I am myself a very shy person (of course, the husband and my girls have helped recover to a great extent), but I have slowly learnt the tricks of the trade and I ensure that even if I’m not awarded for my efforts, no one else gets to take the credit. So I would say, going by the waves you should slowly but surely learn to come out of your comfort zone.

    • @Rekha, in my situation, I have an incompetent manager who believes in the virtues of having his posterior kissed more than good work which speaks for itself. In fact, the people I work for were so surprised earlier this year when my manager chose to ignore all the excellent feedback that they had given me and decided to perform my appraisal without considering their inputs. In such a situation, why should I care about what my manager thinks of my work. And how do you want me to ‘self promote’ my work to an absolute nincompoop in the given case?

      But your point is well taken Reks and which is the reason why I still languish at the ‘bottom of the vessel’ so to speak.

      • @Rekha, why would I want to do that? This role gives me enough time and energy to pursue my interest in reading and writing 😀 Plus, I am just not ambitious or patient enough to get into the ‘rat race’ for good appraisals, promotions, pay hikes, more responsibilities, etc.

      • If you know me you very well know that pay hike, appraisal or promotion is not what I vote for. It’s the learning, independence and peaceful atmosphere that matters to me. Of course, priorities are different for different individuals.

  9. I used to HATE being clicked. blame it on self-esteem issues and insecurity about dark-skin and specs 😦

    but, as I grew up I realized that I wasn’t ugly and with the right accessory (Smile) I could “pose” for a decent pic! So, I enjoy it now!! 😀 and I enjoy wielding the camera as well. I’m not technical or crazy about it but I enjoy taking a decent picture 🙂

    I enjoy learning and the experience a new project brings.. but I also enjoy the accolades and the promotions because I feel that since I’ve worked hard on it – I deserve it. Like on a story – I glow when someone acknowledges my hard work.
    I shy away from self promoting my blog even today (too many reasons!) but it feels nice when a friend does the honors 🙂

    • @pixie, as for your picture stories, it kind of mirrors mine for now 🙂 And as for self promotion of my blog posts, you know how I do it 😉

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