Life is all about evolution, a journey of constantly changing for good. What I was, I am not the same; in-fact I am better and want to be the “best” in my own ways.
I still remember leaving my first job in JUST two days as a school administrator, because I could not get up early in the morning and report at 7am. But, when I started working with Jet as a Cabin Crew, reporting at odd hours every day, I learnt how to survive and did fairly well after a couple of months once the adjustment phase got over.
I do not bag fancy qualifications at the chip of my shoulder, but I have always believed that whatever you do, you need to be your best, and only this can set you apart from the rest. I recently visited Banasthali college as a guest speaker where they addressed me as Dr. Suman Agarwal (by mistake) and I laughed my lungs out. A college drop-out being called a Doctor? Well this is how perceptions work. I have done my masters in my technical field of Image Consulting, but by academic qualification I am an under-grad, does that really matter? Well it did a couple of years ago, when I was nobody. Today I have years of experience behind me to support what I specialise in and I am proud of what I am today. My skill-sets lie in uplifting people, bringing them out of their shell, paying attention to details, and then finally providing them solutions; actually there are a whole lot of things that I put my hands into as an Image Consultant and the director of my company - Image Consulting Business Institute, but people’s skills is what is closest to my heart.
I was recently talking to my house staff Shivani, who lost her parents when she was a kid and was raised by her uncle and aunt, who sent her out to earn at an early age so that they could educate their own children. Such is life… a bitter reality. Whenever I would raise a topic about her own future, she would burst out crying and we would end it just there. She is 21, exactly my daughter’s age and has no clue what or how life will be 10 years from now.
There is something about her which I could see and no one else noticed - her beauty. She is a beautiful and an intelligent girl, a very quick and eager learner but she herself does not believe so. She is also embarrassed to stand in front of the mirror because she is dark and has blunt features. She is highly unsure about her future and where life will take her in the years to come.
I evidently noticed her problem areas:
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, your general feelings and sense of worth based on self-image and amount of esteem others have on you. Everytime I would talk to Shivani about making a slight change in her look, she would ignore and go away, I understood that there were deep rooted image issues based on the feedback she had received from her set of society where she used to work previously. They never fed her enough and kept her under lock and key when they would go out.
Self confidence refers to your own belief, trust, and reliance on yourself - your appearance, skills, and abilities you can count to meet your needs. Self-confidence increases when you know how to use your clothing appropriately as a tool to develop, maintain, and modify your appearance according to your needs as the “External is Internalized” In her case, she just had two sets of clothes when she came to me a year ago; shabby and literally struggling to survive and earn, so that the money can be sent to her so called family. Very timid and would hardly talk to anyone, extremely under-confident. She would snap back at people, using it as a defence mechanism, as she was scared and highly insecure.
A day came when I decided to change her perspective about her own self and make her think differently about her self image. After all your Self Image has a direct effect on your self esteem – your physical self (including your body image); your psychological self (including values, attitudes, personality, talents and abilities).
So finally one fine day, it all started with a lot of apprehensions, inhibitions and deliberations from her end, when I told her that we are going to change you.
The transformation was planned and well executed in a manner that Shivani does not feel awkward and maintains complete faith on what we planned for her.
Image matters. Everyone has an image and it matters; from a maid to the highest level of individual, we are all humans have a perception about ourselves; negative or positive is secondary.
Some people have a natural talent to project themselves appropriately and attractively in their own way, some do not and they need someone who can provide a sensible advise which is unbiased and genuine.
This is what we helped Shivani with, made her see herself differently. She is beautiful, we just cleared the clouds so that she could believe in herself and in what I said, "Shivani, you are very pretty and you have beautiful hair, be what you are and stay the way you are… there is a life ahead of you, so live like a free bird, not under lock and key. Smile, laugh, shop and enjoy your money that you earn, and do save some for future as well."
Today she is not what she was, she is different. She is confident and a cheerful little girl who lights up everyone's faces. She makes excellent food, is very prompt, entertaining and so full of life.
Meet our beautiful Shivani...
To some people, Image means “Superficial gloss” and the way a person appears is dismissed as it is of little or no importance… Absolute Nonsense.
There are threshold moments in life when people need to move ahead, change for good; not just for others but for themselves, so that they can live and lead a happy life. Shivani has personally evolved, she is still with us, but much more happier and confident about her decisions and choices. She is part of our family and my 3 year old son's very dear friend :)
Shivani, when she arrived a year ago...
Look good, feel good, do good, others are good to you... life is good!
Written by Suman Agarwal
This post was originally pubished on LinkedIn.