There is almost nothing more humbling — and humiliating — than trying to carry out a personal rebrand and failing. I would know, unfortunately, because I try to rebrand myself at the beginning of each calendar year to consistently disheartening results.
Either out of boredom or a thirst for new avenues of validation, the draw of reconstructing certain aspects of my personality in order to impress others is too alluring to escape — for instance, I decided I was going to get really into fitness and running this year, a lofty character trait I had already given up on by the time January drew to a close. Why do I subject myself to this disappointment time and time again?
What makes a failed rebrand so much more devastating than an unfulfilled resolution is that the former operates on a considerably larger scale than the latter. Breaking a promise you made to yourself is one thing, but shattering a meticulously crafted persona that is perceivable by anyone you interact with can be almost too much to reckon with.
As a college student, I am at a point in my life where ceaseless reinvention is encouraged, yet taking part leaves me vulnerable to the fear that I am only a few misguided steps away from having to start from scratch once more.
About two months ago, recovering from yet another unsuccessful rebrand, I got the chance to see what is currently my favorite movie of the year, “The Worst Person in the World.” In this Norwegian drama, Julie — a young woman from Oslo — changes who she is all the time. Over the course of the film, she leaves behind countless lifestyles and lovers just as soon as she warms up to them, eagerly catapulting herself towards whatever the next great iteration of herself seems to be.
To some viewers, Julie’s erratic approach to life might seem precarious. But as someone who is constantly struggling to be satisfied with my place in the world, I couldn’t help but be inspired by her unwavering determination to find the best possible version of herself.
Whenever I attempt to execute a rebrand, I do it with pessimism, shame and an unshakable feeling that it simply will not work. When Julie does it in ‘The Worst Person in the World,’ she does so with the utmost confidence in herself and her head held high. Sure, there might be some tears and complicated emotions to navigate in the wake of each new shift in trajectory, but Julie nevertheless puts herself through those uncomfortable endeavors to get what she wants out of life. In essence, she rebrands in order to make herself happy, even if it comes at the risk of displeasing others. As I witnessed this narrative unfold on screen, I was forced to come to terms with the idea that my approach to rebranding might be inherently flawed.
Up until now, I must admit that all of my efforts to reinvent myself had been in the futile attempt to get other people to like me. I was more than willing to sacrifice certain interests and characteristics of mine so I would be more palatable to anyone I interacted with.
On the rare occasion that I was able to pull this artifice off, it came at the cost of being miserable for as long as I kept the act up. Therefore, I aspire to be more like Julie, for I think that once I stop changing for strangers and start angling for my own satisfaction, I will hopefully be more content with the person I am.
Having watched “The Worst Person in the World,” I now believe that there is a certain beauty to be found in a failed rebrand. All of my setbacks in reinventing myself have only paved the way for a point in the future where I will be truly impressed by who I have become.
I know I will get it right eventually. Until then, I’ll probably just have to keep rebranding over and over, as dreadful as that sounds at this moment in time. After all, even if I don’t succeed initially, it is never too late to begin again.