Choosing your “face”

565 words • 2 min to read

Right now I have a website where I promote my web-design and development skills. I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort into building those skills and positioning myself as a person skilled in them.

With that backdrop, I considered the following hypothetical scenario: I’m spotted by a modelling agency while I’m out and about and they invite me to a photoshoot (highly unlikely, but this is a thought experiment—bear with me). Let’s say it’s a big success and, before I know it, I have a lucrative career as a magazine model, despite never having striven to build relevant skills—it was a matter of chance.

Many companies want to reach out to me to offer me modelling gigs. In that context, it would make no sense to maintain a website where I label myself a web-designer. What if a potential modelling client looks me up and lands upon it? They’ll either assume it’s someone else who shares my name or that they got the wrong name. I’d be doing myself a disservice. The same would, of course, apply to my social media accounts and the way I present myself to the world overall.

So what would I do? Throw all my previous work down the drain, so to speak, and “rebrand” myself as a model? That seems like the most sensible choice. But even then, I wouldn’t suddenly lose my design skills. I’d still be the same person; I’d only be presenting myself differently, hiding certain facets of myself to boost my performance in a particular area.

That’s an extreme scenario but I think it’s an issue we all constantly face to a certain degree.

Around our closest of friends, we can truly be ourselves. We can proudly disclose our interests in a variety of fields, our curiosity about taboo subjects. We can engage in activities that have nothing to do with our chosen craft; all that without fear of looking like a “generalist”, a good-for-nothing jack-of-all-trades.

Could it be that this a fear that not many people share? Unlikely, considering all the articles and books advising us to “niche-down” and present ourselves as experts in a particular field. If humans were not by default multifaceted. There would be no need for advice to niche down. And look, I get it. I would also much rather an expert plumber.

Look, I get it. I would also much rather an expert plumber fix my faucet, than someone who does plumbing alongside marketing, app development and writing novels. But in reality, few (if any) of us are really good at one thing only. We might pretend that we only care about, say, gardening and advertise ourselves as an expert gardener for luxury hotels, but when we are “backstage” we might also be really into singing, painting and designing board games. Not only that, but we might in fact be really good at all those things; so good that we could be doing any of them professionally instead, or in addition to, gardening.

And here lies the dilemma. How do we choose our “face”, in essence the personality traits we handpick to present to the world and call “us”?