Having met different people from all parts of the world, I have broadened my perspective on things — mostly on the concept of “what matters” and what doesn’t.
Certain cultures are more obsessed with looks than others — sometimes to the point that it annoys me. Last month I was in Saigon and met a smart, highly educated, well-traveled Indian girl who now goes to college in New York but is doing an internship at Pepsi in Vietnam. We had a chat about traveling and moving to another country, and how it increases our thirst for knowledge, intensifies our curiosity, and shapes our mindset.
I asked her for opinions about her hometown as I am back in my hometown for a couple of months and trying to catch up with everything after being away for so long.
“I think our hometowns are beautiful but most of the people don’t have the intellectual curiosity like those we meet on our travels.”
Learning about certain cultures, it saddens me to know that the society is obsessed with looks and the outer exterior. People search for meaning from outside in rather than inside out. They believe that bettering themselves from the outside — looks, material possessions, the acts they put on — will make them better on the inside; will make them happy. They believe that people like them for their looks and what they have, rather than who they are.
Just like any cool-looking, beautifully designed gadgets made with low quality components, they don’t last. After a while the user will get bored and move onto the next prettier, cooler looking thing that comes along.
But with gadgets that are probably not the best looking but made of high quality components and have great functionality — they are useful and fun to use for years to come — no matter how hot the newer gadgets look, the user is less likely to be distracted as he’s already pleased with what he’s got. There will always be something that looks better. There will always be something that functions better. But nothing will ever replace the combination of everything put together — everything that the gadget is — the memories it creates and how it makes the user feel.
Surely a beautiful appearance catches eyes but using beauty alone doesn’t last. Once a shinier, prettier thing comes along, those eyes will start to wander off; attention will be tilted; happy times will seemingly be fewer and far between.
Someone will always be prettier.
Someone will always be smarter.
Someone will always be younger.
But they will never be you.
Instead of focusing on making the outside look good so that the things you hope to attract — be it attention, love, compliments, acceptance — make you feel good, focus on who you truly are as a person and build a better you from the inside out.
Looks will fade. Materials can be taken away. But no one can ever take away the combination of You. No one can ever replace the You that is You — who you truly are, your personality traits, your sense of humor, your talents, your quirks, your strengths and weaknesses, your mindset, your hopes and dreams, your smile, your kind heart, and the memories and experiences you create for the people you interact with and leave behind with your presence.