The Journey is Certain While the Destination is Unknown

Shaaz Nasir

Looking Glass Self Theory

Journey > Destination

Our journey is certain yet our destination is unknown. No this is not an abstract perfume ad starring Brad Pitt but an opinion piece aiming to explain Generation Y’s path to self-discovery. I string together powerful quotes in an attempt to map out the thought process of young professionals going through the early stages of self-discovery. I provide some advice on how to find yourself through a psychological theory called “Looking Glass Self”. I conclude with insights on the direction Mindthis is taking and what the magazine personally means to me. Most of my articles have included a call to action but this one simply calls for you to sit down and think about the person you are verus the person you strive to be.

Our Ideal Reality

Distinguishing between our ideal reality and the desire we have for it can be a life long journey which ends in failure. The success we chase is subjective but the consequences of our actions are not. What we give up and gain are forever etched into our essence. The journey Generation Y faces defines us, while our destination is not only unknown but irrelevant. Young professionals from all walks of life aim to be successful in their lives. This fact alone is not revolutionary. However, things become intriguing when we begin to unravel the context behind our relentless pursuit of success.

Studies have shown that those who project certain traits (despite lacking those traits), may end up acquiring them. Looking Glass Self Theory declares the perception of those around you will shape your own persona. In other words, if people keep describing you as a well read person, you consciously try to read more and thus become a well read person.

Cary Grant once said  “Must I  pretend to be somebody I want to be until finally I became that person, or he becomes me?” this embodies the risk you will take when trying to use the Looking Glass Self Theory.  He failed to nail down who he was, let others defined him, and lost himself in the pursuit of self-discovery. Success alone can’t define you. Yet, success is how we often fill those voids of uncertainty. It’s a bad idea. Cary built a persona on what everyone wanted him to be. He went too far with the Looking Glass Self Theory as he said “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”

How to Use the Looking Glass Self Theory

Find yourself in others by doing good and being honest to yourself. Going back to Looking Glass Self Theory, surround yourself with the friends who bring you up and assign positive labels/characteristics to you. Make sure you reciprocate the kindness to these friends. Create a healthy environment of equals who do everything to help each other. My philosophy for friendship is based on this quote “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” If you adopt this philosophy and use the Looking Glass Self Theory correctly, soon enough as your behaviour changes you shall adapt these positive attributions. It worked very well for me.

However, don’t fall into the trap that many young professionals do which is to create a “fan base possy” where you only surround yourself with like minded or weak people who will just praise you. That is a disaster for a fool’s paradise which will only leave you with emptiness. Instead, surround yourself with equals who challenge you to grow. You run the risk of emotionally draining friendships, but these are the ones that will sharpen your own sense of self worth versus the folks who just say “yes” to everything you say,think, and do. To start using the Looking Glass Self Theory, make a list of all your friends who support you vs the ones who do not and just spend more time with the latter. It’s a simple start.

Being > Pursuing

This quote sums up our generations reliance on trying to escape ourselves:  “I don’t know why it is that I have always been happier thinking of somewhere I have been or wanted to go, than where I am at the time. I find it difficult to be happy in the present.” Some try to move and leave “everything behind” to start fresh, this is a bad idea as you leave everything behind except your mindset that brought you the agony to begin with. Moving with the right mindset is an amazing thing to do but doing it for the wrong reasons will only lead to more confusion. Stop chasing that elusive internship, the grandiose conferences, and trying to outrun your self. Sit in silence and savour your past accomplishments. Young professionals keep blindly acquiring awards, model UN conferences, setting up NGOs, with no real purpose. Being on the top 30’s under 30’s list for Forbes can’t be your sole reason to keep running. Vanity only decays your self worth.

I apologize but buying your identity is not an option for self-discovery. I keep on insisting that money cannot be your anthem for success, as real purpose is greater than real prada (although I love Prada). Appreciate your “today” as Generation Y often glamorize the future at the expense of their present.

Doing > Talking

Most young professionals claim to have the right mindset yet rarely act upon it.  A clear example of what I am saying can be derived from this quote found in a dairy dated October 1930.

“You say you will cut adrift – you will sit on pavements and drink coffee, you will see the Southern hills; you will dream; you will take your mind out of its iron cage and let it swim. you say all this; with energy; but shall you actually do it? Shan’t you peter out here, till the fountain fills again? you need solitude. you need space. you need air. you need the empty fields round yourself and your legs pounding along roads; and sleep.” People talk a lot but don’t understand how much effort it takes to act on their words.

Our hedonistic self grasps the idea  of “never giving up” and “being true to yourself” yet we just don’t act upon it. Not out of laziness but rather fear. Robert Frost nails the risk we fear when he writes “In each line, in each phrase the possibility of failure is concealed.  The possibility that the whole poem, not just that isolated verse, will fail.  That’s how life is: at every moment, we can lose.” Our generation may have set the bar too high for themselves as the horrid economic conditions will surely put a breaks on professional development.

The very tools that once empowered us are now rusting, from MBAs to Law school, their value is decaying and along with it our chances of success. But don’t fear this failure, let it push you. It’s easy saying you will never settle or never give up, but carrying out this bombastic promise is painful. Doing is greater than talking.

Mind Your Legacy

“…It’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”

– Chuck Palahniuk

This quote captures my reason for starting Mindthis. Our legacy is based on advising our generation through these rough economic times to be the best they can be.

I have been traveling the world to test Mindthis as a lifestyle magazine for young professionals. After attending Model UN’s at Harvard/Yale, G20 Youth Summits in DC, One Young World in Pittsburgh, The Media Convention and the Entrepreneur Summit in Dubai, young professionals offered great feedback and praise for our work. They especially enjoyed how Mindthis covers all aspects of the cosmopolitan young professional. One young professional in Dubai called it a “renaissance 2.0 magazine”.

Renaissance 2.0

After meeting with experts from Google, Bloomberg, and Forbes, one common message stood out. “We love Mindthis, we love what your team is doing, just focus on establishing an authority on young professionals and building the Mindthis global brand.” This brand they speak of is one that embodies the complete cosmopolitan young professional with interest spanning to culture, foreign affairs, and technology.

Our goal is simple, become the most popular lifestyle magazine for young professionals that provides inspiring advice and informative analysis. It is to create a lifestyle magazine that embodies a new generation of young professionals, a connected generation that is empowered by technology and personal belief that a real purpose is just as valuable as real Prada. From enlisting young bankers, scientists, lawyers, academics, fashion designers, economists, Mindthis is acting as a personal team of advisors for our readers in over 175 countries.

Mindthis is pioneering Renaissance 2.0 for the all-encompassing young professional who seeks to be informed on culture, foreign affairs, and technology. In these tough economic climates, young professionals can no longer hope for their future, they must build it. This is what our magazine is doing, building Renaissance 2.0, in which, together the world will mind this generation.

The journey is certain but the destination is unknown. I am just a 23 year old guy but I can ensure you, if my life experiences thus far have taught me anything, it is that if you surround yourself with loving friends and help them with all your heart, you will love your journey regardless of where it ends up taking you. I leave you with one last quote,  “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

Now go forth by using the Looking Glass Self Theory to help find your self and your legacy.