Selling Myself

About 4 years ago, I went through UCAS and encountered the innocuously named ‘Personal Statement’. Innocuous, it is not. For any of you who have gone through UCAS, you will know that it becomes the bane of your life. How do you sum up your life, your ambitions and your accomplishments in 4,000 characters – or 47 lines of text (including spaces)? Hours are spent poring over the 47 lines that can determine the success or failure of your university application. We must all learn to sell ourselves if we are to succeed.

And do you know what’s even more annoying? From that day forward, there will always be personal statements. Job applications, and pretty much any application for that matter, have sections dedicated to this same hideous task, reincarnated with titles such as “About Me” and “Tell us a little bit about yourself”. It is one of the most frustrating things you will ever write and not just because there is so much you will want to say and find the character counter thwarting you at every turn. The greatest frustration, for me at least, is maintaining what I have dubbed the ‘Confidence Equilibrium’.

Image(Not my best drawing so far.)

When you are applying for a job, or for a place at university, or pretty much anything, you cannot be modest – and this goes for both written applications and interviews. When you are being asked to sell yourself, you can never, in fact, be yourself. There is a version of yourself you are required to present, and not necessarily a version you would like to be. The applicant must balance their account of themselves carefully so as to not tip the see-saw too far in either direction. Drifting to the left side – excessive modesty – means you fail to demonstrate any confidence in your own skills, and if you don’t believe in yourself, why would a potential employer? On the other hand, drifting to the right – excessive self-confidence – appears like arrogance and any notes your interviewer makes on his mysterious clipboard as he analyses you may well read “egotistical ass”, and no one wants to work with one of them either.  So, how to achieve that illusive middle ground? It is attempting to master this skill that will haunt you throughout interviews in your young adult life.

“What is your biggest flaw?” This question is the bread and butter of interviewers, bread and butter that forms the tasty treat in a wildlife trap, luring in anxious interviewees. If you are honest about your flaws then you are in danger of taking yourself out of the running completely. You could go with “Do you know, I just can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I guess I’m just that good,” followed by an awkward attempt at laughter. Or you could go with the classic: say a flaw that isn’t really a flaw. Instead take this opportunity to present another positive about yourself, but in order to appear like you are still answering the question, present it negatively. “I’m just too much of a perfectionist”. This is simply false modesty by any other name and those who employ this tactic are, to my mind, cheating. If there is a right answer to this question, I haven’t found it yet.

Once I graduate, I will be faced with a sea of applications, interviews and auditions – I’m going to try and be an actress, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that yet – and I will be trying to sell myself. I’ll let you know how it goes!

If any of you have employed any of these or your own interview/application tactics I’d be interested to know how it turned out! Leave comments below! Thanks for reading!

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Mind Splurge – A definition

(Warning: This post contains juxtapositional comedy. And boobies.)

Splurge (OED): An ostentatious display or effort. Also in phr. to cut a splurge , to make an ostentatious display.

I do this in literary form. Boom. Done.

… well not quite done. It’s also delightfully onomatopoeic. And I would like to think I offset any “ostentatious” wordiness with my commitment to immaturity. Poo, fart, bottom, boobies, willies, giggidy, oink, moo, pants… *spin around till you fall over*.

Making it up as I go along (aka Splurge No. 2)

These blogs are not going to be thought out. They will be spontaneous ramblings, or – to use a pretentious literary term – extempore creations. Thank you university! That sort of language is also to be expected, but I hope it won’t put off too many of you. I will not be spending extensive amounts of time planning these entries, but making it up as I go along. Again, if you want to be pretensious about it, then my writing style will reflect my lifestyle. I am making it up as I go along. I’m still getting out of the habit of writing academic essays, so it is slightly artsy notions such as those just expressed that may pop up unexpectedly and blogging is a creative outlet for those tendencies.

These blogs will take the form of mind splurges. And this is splurge No. 2. Splurge. I like that word…

My mind splurges also tend to end abruptly.

Ps. If anyone would like to splurge back, I welcome comments, responses etc.

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How do I do this?

Pandora's Envelope

Ok, so, I have decided to write a blog.

I have never written a blog.

That is unless you count some delightfully over-formatted myspace entries when I was 11, back when the most exciting thing you could do with online text was to go from austere Times New Roman to the playful Comic Sans that fills one with a sense of childish middle class rebellion. There was no demand to say something interesting or funny or intelligent or even legible back then. There was only the delightfully innocent notion of telling people about yourself.

And myspace was only the beginning. Since then, autobiographical media produces a daily onslaught of statuses, tweets, videos, pictures, blogs. As everyone pours the minutiae of their lives onto the LCD screens in front of them, we are creating our own online world. With clouds floating above and birds tweeting in every tree, it’s something of an edenic image wouldn’t you say?

The purpose of this blog is, for me, to some extent, to hold back the tide of real life just a little bit longer.

By the end of July of this year, I will no longer be a student. I will have completed my English Literature degree at university and will have to enter Real Life. Something of a daunting prospect for me, since it has always been my goal to never grow up. It is my hope that writing as I go will help to abait my trepidation as Real Life glimmers at the edge of the horizon.

So, here goes… Geronimo.