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  • Writer's pictureCherise Adams

Who are you, really?

Updated: Jun 19

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about reputation lately. All of my life, I’ve had imposter syndrome at some level, wondering at what point I’ll reach my inevitable doom. In school, I wondered when my creativity would run dry, leaving behind only a girl with some camera equipment. In college, I wondered when my fervent studying would be rendered useless against the 100-question tests in the College of Business computer lab. When colleagues and leadership recommend me for things, I’m still constantly shocked that I’ve been noticed, and I often wonder, “why me?”

Whether you like it or not, those around you have an opinion about you which dictates how they perceive you and react to your actions, whether intentional or unintentional. While some of these opinions can be rooted in systemic prejudice, some of this we can control. A good friend told me recently, “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Consider those simple tasks that you do day-to-day like leaving a shopping cart in its right place or working on a team to complete a project. What does how you work say about you? What does your reaction to bad news say about your ability to flex in uncomfortable situations? Do your actions contradict your words? Here’s how you can start to evaluate this:

Talk to your family and friends

They know you best. Ask them candidly what they think of you and if their opinions have changed over time. Be ready to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly since these people have likely seen you at your worst. Ask them to explain their opinions and share whether you agree with them or not. Ask for specific examples so you can reflect over your actions.

Find a mentor

If you don’t have a mentor already, you need one. Find someone you admire personally or professionally, and find multiple mentors. Once you've established a strong rapport, ask them what their first impression was of you and if that has changed over time. Ask them where they think your blind spots may be and how you can improve your self awareness. Accept this honest feedback as a gift from those who want to help you succeed, even if it may be hard to swallow.

Make your words matter

Once you’ve identified your current reputation and how you hope to represent yourself, find ways to make simple, gradual changes toward who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you who have the traits you hope to learn. Set up time with them to connect and ask about how they overcame their own obstacles. Ask them what they would do in situations where your actions did not match your intentions.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that everything I have, I’ve worked really hard for. Those creative projects I completed for free, the GPA and portfolio that got me into grad school, and the extra hours and attention I put into my work every day mean something and shows the world who I am. I’ve created my reputation by working to become the person I want to be 10, 20, and 50 years from now. When your reputation speaks for itself, the heavy lifting is done. Those around you will advocate for you and your worth will be impossible to ignore.

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