How many times have you changed your narrative?

We all have a story. That story evolves and progresses as we grow old. We always justify our present by looking at the past. We try to build a narrative that is comforting to our minds. Every milestone in that narrative has a good reason. You did your MBA because you were saturated in your engineering job. You did not get a good job after an MBA because the market was not right. Then you worked for an NGO because it was your inner calling. You met your spouse because it was just meant to be. So on and so forth. As long as all those narratives accurately justify your present, you try to watch reruns of these narratives in your mind. It is peaceful.

But oftentimes we are forced to change that narrative because the present demands it. For instance, you did your MBA because there was no other option. You met your spouse at that party because your friend wanted you guys to meet. Now that you are not happy with your spouse, you change the narrative of meeting your spouse from a happenstance to a bad event triggered by your stupid friend. You might have struggled at getting good jobs in your early career but now that you have a cool high paying job you attribute that to the fact that you went through all those wrong jobs.

The more we change our narrative, the more we get uncomfortable with who we are as individuals. And it is not our fault that we change our narratives. See the world around us, it enables us to do so. The choices that we have today from options on Tinder to what you can major it at university to the toppings on your burger and overwhelming. Inadvertently you are bound to make the wrong choices that won’t clearly justify your present. That piece of puzzle won’t fit right but you have to live with it eventually. Which means you have to live with the discomforting “reruns” of the present narratives until you get a chance to change the narrative again.

Given such situation it would be only a wishful thinking to have a constant unifying narrative that clearly explains the story of your life without a glitch. Having said that, the lesser we change our narratives the better it is. That is just a deductive reasoning and a hope for better living.

Now look at the other side of the coin. People around you also try to build a narrative for you. They might have a collection of hundreds of people around them. Some narratives are objective and shallow chronology of events. For instance, he went to school, he sucked at school, he dropped out, he got into drugs, he was lucky to meet a super smart entrepreneur who changed his life. Some narratives from your close ones can be subjective, their own reality of how they have seen your story evolve. Your dad might create a narrative that you joined that low paying NGO job after your MBA because you couldn’t deal with pressure of the corporate job. How others perceive you also change the way you see yourself because now their narrative of yourself and your narrative is in a direct conflict.

Again it will be a wishful thinking to align your narrative to the perceived narrative of other. It won’t happen. But smaller the differences between how you see yourself and how others see you, higher the mental comfort you will have around them. I believe that the lesser narratives you have about yourself, the easier it is for people to build their narratives of you closer to the one you hold.

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