On occasion, people have commented that marketing myself online using an old nickname could be unprofessional. They just don’t know the whole story. I’ve gone through about a dozen different nicknames in my lifetime, some terrible and others even worse.
Normally, these names would come and go depending on the crowd I found myself a part of. Of these names, only a handful ever managed to stick. Whack names like Steverino and Stevo never caught on. And for good reason. Nobody liked saying them and I certainly didn’t like hearing them. But, why was it that these names never stuck?
These nicknames represented nothing other than a small change to my given name. There isn’t much thought going into a nickname that is based entirely on a modification in pronunciation. What these failed nicknames lacked was a real connection to my core identity.
On the other hand, we have the nickname Shcteve.
Most people see this word and have no idea of the meaning. The reality is this; the moniker Shcteve actually has a significant and meaningful relationship with my core identity. It represents the first steps I took in pursuit of identifying myself and becoming aware of my symbolic self.
The sad truth of today’s society is that many people make it through life never finding the happiness and peace of mind that comes with knowing themselves. Self-awareness is the ability to observe and reflect on one’s own mental state. Self-awareness is a hard sought and seldom mastered mental practice. The struggle to attain self-awareness is ongoing and requires an amount of active effort. Without developing self-awareness, you can never identify your actual self: the sum of who you are as a person.
Subjective self-awareness involves an organism’s ability to distinguish the differences that exist between themselves and within the environment. With this distinction comes the ability to perceive the environment as separate from the self and change it through self-initiated movements. This level of self-awareness is present in all life forms, as every living organism has the ability to self-regulate and respond to environmental stimuli. Subjective self-awareness is the most basic level of self-awareness.
Objective self-awareness is the capacity of an organism to acknowledge its own state of mind. In other words, the ability to turn its attention inwards for the sake of introspection. Objective self-awareness also provokes self-referential behavior; otherwise known as the use of your own knowledge to draw conclusions about other organisms. This capacity occurs at a largely more conscious level than subjective self-awareness.
Symbolic self-awareness is the most diverse form of self-awareness. It requires the most active cognitive function and is therefore limited to humankind. With it, comes the ability to form a representation of oneself using language. This abstract self-representation is referred to as the symbolic self. The symbolic self should be understood as the key actor and benefactor of most mental faculties. Of which, the most relative cognitive functions of the symbolic self are to:
- Communicate the symbolic self to other organisms in an effort to establish personal and social relationships.
- Set goals for the future.
- Participate in goal-oriented behavior.
- Understand and evaluate the outcome of goal-oriented behavior.
- Connect certain outcomes to explicit feelings towards the symbolic self.
- Defend self from threatening events and ideas. The symbolic self can employ fear, rejection or even self-deception to protect itself from negative stimuli.
Though there is quite a bit of science to discuss in this area, these are the basic tenants of self-awareness.
Now you should have a base understanding of the basic principles of self-awareness. My experience with self-awareness is rooted in my first real entrepreneurial endeavor; selling cookies throughout the hallways of my high school and building a brand that conveyed the product effectively. Here is a quick summary of my first experience engaging with my symbolic self to produce long-term change in my life.
Shcteve started off as a nickname that bugged the hell out of me. In fact, I used to get rather confrontational when my friends would use it after I’d told them not to. As is usually the case for high schoolers, they wouldn’t let up so the name stuck. Eventually, I found myself responding to this nickname more often than I would my actual name.
On her birthday, I decided to bring my girlfriend a large batch of assorted homemade cookies. Of course, I overdid it, bringing several Tupperware containers full of cookies. This was no problem, as she was popular and had many friends with whom she could share them. By the end of the day, I was excited to hear that she loved them and her friends did too. By baking cookies, I was able to share a part of myself with others and take pride in their enjoyment. Once I became aware of this, I immediately started to imagine how I could consistently replicate that feeling of excitement.
Though I wasn’t popular by any means, I was usually regarded as a cool and approachable guy in high school. At this age, my sense of self-awareness was still in its budding stages. Yet, it still alerted me to the opportunity that was now in front of me. Having evaluated the outcome of offering my cookies for free, I was now considering the option of selling them as a product. About a week after giving out my first batch, I entered the early stages of selling my cookies and went on to establish a brand that was capable of fully supporting the financial needs of your average highschool kid. The name I chose?
I faced many struggles in taking myself seriously and setting goals in the beginning. Though, over time I was able to overcome this by accepting criticisms and feedback as valuable resources in developing the process. By setting measurable goals aimed at improvement, I was able to build a routine that eventually resulted in success.
The ability to identify which stimuli generate desirable or undesirable feelings is essential to developing an understanding of your identity. Garnering excitement from my girlfriend and her friends had a positive effect on my symbolic self. By recognizing this, I was able to confidently engage myself in the goal-oriented behaviors involved with operating as a business. Setting long term goals and maintaining the action necessary to fulfill them is a conscious effort and requires constant participation from the symbolic self.
This information may be a bit much to understand at first glance. Hopefully, my quick story was able to put things into perspective for you. My sense of self-awareness grows with every day, but the potential for growth in this respect is limitless.
By identifying the desired outcome for your symbolic self, you are actively engaging with it as well. Therefore, the easiest first step you can take to train your self-awareness is setting real long-term goals for yourself. If you are serious about personal growth and development, it is never too late to start building more awareness of yourself.
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Categories: How-to Hustle