“It is not the question, what am I going to be when I grow up; you should ask the question, who am I going to be when I grow up.” — Goldie Hawn.
There is a current tv ad spot for a car company (sorry, I don’t remember which brand), that shows a young woman driving through a city. She says something like “There are 8,491,079 people in this city. But only one me.” That is a great line. And beyond all the marketing reasons why that works, it speaks to something we all seem to be fascinated with: ourselves. We love to research, discuss, and think about what makes us tick, what makes us similar or different from others… in other words, why are we special? Who is that person in the mirror?
Those of us in sales, marketing and media are enthralled with the Generational discussion. We analyze our differences based on when we were born and how our life experiences have shaped us. Are you from the Greatest Generation? A Baby Boomer? A Gen X? A Milennial? We wear our Generation with pride. What if you are on the cusp in between? Does that give you an identity crisis? How does this relate to our “pecking order” in our own families? Were you the oldest, the middle child, the youngest? In the fairly wide spread range of ages in the average work force, there’s a whole lot of discussion about how these groups work together. How should the “older generations” work with the younger digitally-focused Milennials? Ugh, please give me a moment now while I go take my Geritol, grab my walker and try to figure out how to use this new fangled contraption on my desk…
Speaking of the working world, many of us have taken part in various personality assessments or workshops, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Interesting stuff, giving us the goal to understand why we work and think the way we do, and how to work effectively with other “types.” (ENFJ, at your service!) This is also handy in our personal lives. I find it fascinating that so much effort and focus has been placed on this, and for nearly 100 years since this philosophy was developed. Leave it to two women (Katherine and Isabel) to take a Swiss psychiatrist’s theory and take it even further. We women love this stuff.
And there’s the other area of fascination: Men vs Women, Mars vs. Venus. There’s no limit to the analysis of the differences here. We R.W.’s can spend hours discussing what is right or wrong with men, and why we are so different from them. Really, we can fill a whole evening or even a whole weekend on this topic. I’m sure men discuss it too. But for them, it goes more like this:
“Man, she’s just driving me crazy.”
“Yeah, chick’s just don’t get it.”
“No, and we sure as hell don’t get them either.”
“You said it. Want a beer?”
When we haven’t been able to find all our answers via scientists or friends, we can of course turn to FaceBook. There is a plethora of almost daily quizzes we can all take to supposedly learn more about ourselves: Which TV Mom Are You? Who Are You in One Word? Who is Your Past Life Boyfriend? What Breed of Cat Are You? Which Inspirational Quote Fits You Best? Which Minion Are You? Although they are all fairly ridiculous, something compels us to take a few minutes away from what we are supposed to be doing with our time, to find out what our answers to the odd questions say about us. Then we post our results. Because for whatever reason, we feel our friends need to know that our Hippie Name would be Flower Petal.
We collect all of these nuggets like clues to some great personal mystery. We want to know we aren’t crazy because we hate mushrooms, or because we cry at AT&T ads, or because we’d rather live on a deserted island than have an argument. We are driven to learn if we are emotional or intellectual or a thrill-seeker, and who our perfect soul mate could be. In short, we want someone to tell us we are unique and awesome.
It is amazing, isn’t it, that we can be really similar to others – like twins, sisters, BFFs… but there are still some features and characteristics that make us our own person. Just the fact that we can wonder about all this is kind of amazing. We could have been created as a much more simple species, like dogs, who contemplate only their immediate needs, like food, play time, sleeping, and unconditional love. But for some reason, we were bestowed with the abilities to do a whole lot more.
Lucky for us we’ve had brilliant minds like Myers, Briggs, and the FaceBook Quiz people to help us in our journey.