I’ve just re-read an essay by the American writer Joan Didion on self-respect.
The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others — who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation, which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara, is something people with courage can do without.
This is a bit of a problem. The world is shouting very loudly that we should make ourselves unique, work on our #branding, tell our story and build our reputation. And indeed this seems to make sense. There are a lot of us about.
But if we Gen Xers and Millenials are intent on building our brands and telling our stories, Didion warns to at least not get trapped into it too early. On the 24 year old singer, Joan Baez:
Baez was a personality before she was entirely a person. And, like anyone to whom that happens, she is in a sense the hapless victim of what others have seen in her.
It’s heartening to know that it would be disastrous to be too good, too soon, and that it isn’t actually necessary to have a reputation at all.
Rachel Wheeley is a comedian, psychology graduate and podcaster with comedy science podcast Level Up Human.
She was a senior studio director for the BBC, producing live news programmes like Today and comedy shows like The Vote Now Show during the 2015 general election. She left the Beeb in 2016.
Rachel has a history of science show called Dead Talks which tours science and music festivals with the Science Showoff Talent Factory. She also runs an annual celebration of The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called Stand Up For Towel Day.
Rachel writes about smart phone addiction after she walked into a lamp post whilst trying to put a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gif on an email and realised she had a problem.
Rachel performs with Ugly Animal Preservation Society and Science Showoff, is an MC and headliner for Bright Club and has performed at Glastonbury, the Royal Institution and the Science Museum.
She is taking a split show to Edinburgh festival in the summer about how she grew up at Eton College. There will be stories about how she was once in a play with Eddie Redmayne and entirely failed to get of with Prince William. More details