Human beings tend to place too much emphasis on image. The image we exhibit to certain people just to look good is actually deceiving. We aren’t what we portray. We show what others would like to see. We feel it is essential to be liked & accepted hence we abide by the norms of society. These norms actually make us act in a way that is intrinsically different to what we truly are.

We believe that our image will boost our reputation. We are concerned about how others view us but we lack concern about who we actually are deep down. The question we need to ask ourselves is why is there a need to be different in front of others? Why do some seem so kind and considerate to the world and not the least bit bothered behind closed doors? Why is our image so important? As I pondered on this I came to realize that we value image because we value our reputation more than what is right or morally correct. We like to be seen as a good and kind person even if we aren’t that in actuality. So if we are on the wrong path or have bad traits the best way forward is to cover it up so our reputation isn’t tainted. Many people who lie or have affairs confess on Sunday in church and feel better. This is repeated over and over again. People go to an organized religious place like a temple, mosque or church to clear their guilt. My father was just that. He seemed like a great guy to the world, temple goer, friendly, sweet talker, did the calls to granny on Chand (Sindhi auspicious days) all the “looking good” parts were done perfectly and did that make him a good person? The world surely thought so until the cover ups couldn’t cover it anymore.

When it’s an act it is just that; an act. I remember when I started dating my boyfriend who’s British, one of the few things I was told was “what would people say? I mean you’re the only daughter shouldn’t you be with an Indian?” I get comments like “you’re travelling with him but you’re not married? What would people say?” What’s scary is we believe our society and that these norms are actually accurate and justified. These cultural ways of being are man-made from centuries ago and it shouldn’t govern how we live but sadly it does. If we don’t abide by it we think our reputation and image would be tarnished. When we die and face judgment day or have a life overview we won’t be asked by God if our life was reputable and if lived up to our image. We are more likely to be questioned instead if we lived a truthful and good life. A life with integrity, a life with a purpose, a life that promotes the higher good. That’s the life I vow to live because being true to my soul is far more precious than that of living a life that set by the norms of the society.

I watched a programme a few nights back on life in ancient Egypt 4000 years ago. Even then the people were obsessed by image and reputation. Many people lived inauthentic lives so they could just “fit in”. They couldn’t be who they truly are. What is more important to you? An authentic or an inauthentic life? I would rather be who I am and live the life I want to live.

“Character is what you are. Reputation is what people think you are.” Henry H. Saunderson