The most important lesson I’ve learned: ‘be you.’

Although last week was nothing short of news, I forwent writing a recap of the week’s PR highlights as my full focus was on mastering my comprehensive exam at Boston University for my M.S. in PR. It’s very bitter sweet as that is it, I’ve reach the culmination of what is undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve taken in my life, attending BU. I’ve told my colleagues and friends and I’ll write it in black and white; I thought I was well versed in PR before deciding on grad school and boy, was I so wrong. BU not only kicked my ass but it also served me a double plate and made sure I scarfed it down and asked for more. I can’t possibly imagine my life without going through the program. I realized I was so wrong and whatever I knew before is nothing compared to everything I picked up throughout my time on Commonwealth Ave.

The journey was certainly not easy, balancing a full-time job and tackling on 20-credit hour semesters; add two seasons at New York Fashion Week; what is life? Memories of fun seem very distant, luckily my masochist obsession with the field and love for learning carried me through. I now find myself understanding the Portuguese concept of ‘saudade,’ the pleasure of longing. Two days out and I’m already missing my school, I want more although I couldn’t wait for this moment to arrive; a conflict of emotions is an understatement.

It goes without saying that I learned a plethora of concepts, theories, better communication practices and strategies, however the biggest lesson I learned from BU was the simplest one of all, ‘be you.’

With a tuition rate identical to Harvard’s you’d probably say that you could’ve told me that for six-figures less. To that I answer, you could’ve told me; sure, but could you have shown me? If your answer is yes, I want to meet you.

My time at BU taught me that the key to anything and everything, especially true in public relations, is to be authentic, to be genuine, to be yourself. I think as communicators it can be very easy to mold yourself, your message, your story to fit the needs of your stakeholders and along the way to lose sight of who you are. You begin thinking of the needs and forget about yourself. I remember entering the program and ‘knowing’ what the ‘perfect’ profile of a PR practitioner was, what ‘right’ answers they would say, what ‘right’ behaviors they would do, there was a strategy to it, and ultimately, I was beyond wrong. Being so perfect makes you imperfect for everything. It makes you a robot; you lose yourself, your worth, your thoughts, you become automated; you are no longer a human. No one wants to be around synthetic creatures. As humans we look for others, in the flesh, who are like us and have the same beliefs as us. We seek to satisfy our hearts and by doing so we look for like-minded-and-hearted beings who we can connect with.

This all can be said for the brands and clients we represent, no customer wants to buy from someone or something that they know is trying to be something they are not. When it’s too orchestrated, it comes across as fake, unnatural, deceiving and ultimately you are hurting the cause you are trying to help. Whether it be a project or yourself, when you are anything but true to yourself or your cause, whoever you are talking will notice and will take action to distance themselves. No one wants to be around something that is not real or insincere. I don’t want to be around fake friends, do you? Clients, customers, employers and anything and everything else you can think of that has a soul and a brain feel the same way. If you know someone who enjoys unauthentic relationships, please introduce them to me; my inner psychologist would like to understand them.

beyou2

Photo: The Running Publicist.

Back to this past weekend, after I finished my test I walked into the school book store and I saw a mug that literally spelled out my life’s biggest lesson. Painted in red with big bold cap-locked Arial font-styled letters, it read ‘BE YOU.’ It was in that moment as my fingers grasped the cup’s handle that it hit me how powerful these two words are. I’m no longer the same person who entered the College of Communication’s double doors in September of 2015; no, not at all. I’m quite the opposite. I’ve embraced everything that makes me different, my imperfections, my flaws as well as my strengths. As a Libra, you know we have many. I’ve learned to celebrate that I don’t fit in everywhere and that I’m not cookie cut. Rather than trying to fit every mold, I now share how I’m a different type of sweet; a bit spicy with a slight tart. I’ve learned to be okay with who I am, for good and for bad. When I meet new colleagues, I welcome them into my world. Those who find me interesting are welcome for more and those who don’t, well it was still great meeting you and I hope the future gives us a change of heart. In order to please anyone, we need to begin with ourselves. We cannot be successful unless we succeed at being the best us we can be.

When you are truly who you are, you find happiness and balance in your life. Who doesn’t want to be around someone who’s happy? If you know some folks who don’t; I’ll sit this one out; I don’t think I need to meet them. In all seriousness, the takeaway here is that regardless of profession or circumstance, the most useful lesson that I’ve learned to date is the one of being yourself. We’re told this as children and we grow up knowing it but not fully understanding it. For that, I thank you, BU. You didn’t tell me how; you showed me how to ‘be you.’

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