Sometimes it feels like unassuming people are an endangered species. Our identity-conscious world is pulsing with self-promoters. Influencer culture isn’t made for the meek and mild, politics has nearly become a full-contact sport, and even religious leaders are often wrapped up in a carefully manicured public persona that defines the brand voice of their organization. The more powerful you are, the more likely you are to find others who want to pad your ego as they attempt to ride on your momentum or to use you for their own advancement.

All of this jockeying for power and status certainly isn’t new, but the tools have been recast and distributed through mobile phones and social media. (Just think about the profound impact the front-facing camera has had on how we communicate and see ourselves.) We’re no longer comparing our talents or bodies to people in our own high school or workplace, we’re stacking up our entire lives against everyone else in the world and we’re doing it every single day. It’s easy to see how soaking in this hyper-comparison culture can quickly lead to self-hatred or self-aggrandizement. The pressure to ‘be someone’ has always been there, but instant access to everyone in the world who is prettier, smarter, funnier, faster, and more popular can leave even the most unassuming enslaved by their own personal brand.

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