A Box of Chocolates

Recently, there was a call for a short biography - a few lines to tell people a bit about myself, my career and the things that are relevant to me. Nemas problemas, right? Well, that’s what I thought.

Things soon became tricky though: What information DO you want to share about yourself? Naturally, you would want to focus on the good stuff, leaving out any shortcomings and odd quirks. So, in with the fancy adjectives, out with the annoying habits: inquisitive, empathic, ambitious, and not a word about starting each book by reading the last page first.

Next, the career: As someone in my mid-forties, I can look back upon a mixed bag of jobs and professions, so which one to highlight? Is it relevant to know that I once tied over 500 pairs of shoelaces in one afternoon? Smeared out cheesecake batter in an assembly line? Monitored the chat platforms of obscure Internet startups? Assisted a local weather forecast? Administered criminal files for the federal criminal police? Taught irregular verbs by surfing festival sites? Tweaked learning assessment systems with YouTube clips?

Lastly, my priorities: Of all the things relevant to me, which to mention? Greenpeace or Gender Equality? Animal Rights or World Literacy? The kiddos? At this point, I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. It occured to me: Any portrayal, even if carefully crafted by our own hands, is no better than your average box of fine chocolates: Selected to please the crowds, but at the mercy of both whim and fancy.

By reducing yourself to just a few lines, you have to make some tuff choices. Whatever information you choose to in- or exclude will equally impact people’s perception of and behavior towards you. When painting a picture, the colors you leave out are just as relevant of a choice than the ones you use. Judging from the information available, people will either buy into the product, so to speak, or politely decline.

But hey – no pressure, right?

Julia Ryberg