Choosing One’s Values

How easy it is to confuse what is important to us with what we think is important to others

I wrote an answer to the question “Why are you not active on social media?” here.

But this post is beyond just social media. It’s about what one values in general.


When I say “value”, I don’t mean moral values alone.

Anything you consider “valuable” or important is a value. Hobbies, professions, people, relationships, technology – pretty much anything.

I never used to be crazy about music or movies like most of the people I knew when I was smaller.

It’s not hard to imagine how other school-kids would react if you didn’t share their common interests.

The only way to “fit in” or be popular is to pretend you’re just the same.

And for a long time, I realize I did do stuff just to fit in better, though even then I couldn’t bring myself to do more than the bare minimum.

Revealing Your Values

I finally thought about how crazy it was that I was doing stuff that bored me just so that other people – many of whom I probably would never see again after a brief crossing of paths – thought highly of me.

And the truth was they wouldn’t care at all. I wasn’t so important in their eyes that they’d keep thinking about me the whole day.

On the contrary, if I simply stopped pretending to be someone else, I’d actually be better off.

When you meet someone different, you’re much more likely to remember them – they’re not just another brick in the wall. When I hear of someone considered “strange” by others – such as a person who loves mathematics with a passion or someone who wakes up hours before everyone else to devote time to their hobby or someone who squeezes time out for a dream like writing a grand novel – I go out of my way to talk to them, because I know they’re almost definitely going to be interesting to talk to.

In his book, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, Harry Browne points out another benefit. If you stop pretending to like stuff you don’t, and drop off your mask and show your genuine nature, you’ll attract others like you, who’ll see you for what you are. Whereas, if you go around hiding your real inclinations, they’ll never know the real you.

I’ve no idea whether the majority of people around me all happen to genuinely love concerts and travelling and eating out and uploading pics on social media , or whether some of them do it because others do that.

But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make an iota of difference and shouldn’t have any bearing on whether I enjoy any of those things. I might or I might not – the answer won’t lie in what others do.

And there’s a funny thing about awkwardness. A lot of times, it’s in our head. If you tell yourself a situation is awkward, it will be. If you carry on normally, it doesn’t have to be.

So I don’t mind telling people when they ask that I don’t watch TV shows or listen to music. If anything, it makes for more interesting conversation.

Let live – No Impositions

I’ve seen a lot of friends who claim they don’t like drinking or smoking or whatever but just do it because others do that.

I’ve never understood that.

But more than that, I’ve never understood the urge so many people have to impose their values on others.

If a person chooses to drink (without harming anyone else), that’s their choice. But why so many relentlessly urge others to drink with them is something I find unfathomable. I don’t think I’ve urged anyone to stop drinking because I don’t drink, but I can’t even count how many times others have urged (almost pleading) me to drink. Perhaps it’s just social niceties, but I find it strange nevertheless.

Re-evaluation of Values

I don’t find much value in social media, hence use it very sparingly. I used to be much more active because others were active, until I realized it had little value for me. Perhaps they found value in it; I didn’t, and that’s what mattered to me.

So the only thing I’d advise, if I had to give any advice, is to look at your values carefully.

When I say look at your values, I mean look at where your life is going. And when I say look where your life is going, I mean look where your time is going.

Whatever you devote your time to is whatever you value, even if you think you don’t like it.

So it’s worth asking – is that something you value, or is it something that has no value for you, but only for others?


Saurabh Swami

Thank You So Much For Writing This 🙂


i highly appreciate your views about value. i hope you keep writing from heart and not for market consumption.


This blog has a value.

Varun Srivastava

Worth reading


Perfectly embedded words with the sparks of genuineness🌻
Can I presume that you don’t like clicking pictures?!


Definitely worth reading 🙂 I don’t know why I don’t get any mails though I have subscribed to your blog.


When did you start answer writing?


You could try writing after you’ve covered enough syllabus once so that you have some content to write. Past year papers might help for this.

Joining a test series will help you get an outsider’s perspective if your answers are any good; I joined them after prelims.


That truly makes so much sense, Thank you.

Sunny Tiwari

You have been an inspiration. “When you meet someone different, you’re much more likely to remember them – they’re not just another brick in the wall.”- I thought of you because your approach to things in life is quite different.

The kid

Dude, what would you do to keep yourself active if you can’t resume heavy lifting for months to come?


Would love to hear your experience of UPSC-CSE journey. What value has it added?


Now I know why you’re not on any social media. Or rather in any pictures that officers post. I’ve literally just seen one picture of yours on Instagram and struggled to find your ID! Following your path, I too have deactivated my Instagram and facebook account from a long time now. Feels amazing!


I am a second year student. I want to become a civil servant I want to start my preparation from now so that after my degree at my first attempt I can clear it.
I have some questions….do help me sir
Hoping you will reply sir..!
1.How did you manage college studies and exams with civils prep?
2. Did you take university exams seriously, and did you study for civils during that period ?
3.How does college study affect UPSC preparation?
4. How to manage college study along with UPSC preparation?
5.Had you left all your social life/social media for CSE from initial days of prep?
6.Do u had very small and limited people around you?
7.How you made yourself this strong so that other people thoughts about you don’t affects you in any way?I’m driving myself to insanity with over-thinking, self-analysis, self-doubt, internal misery and zero action.
8.What the heck can I do to completely change my brain and actually enjoy my life?Why is it so hard to be happy I can’t stop worrying about everything and overthinking life?
9.How you made yourself focused and studios?

Harit Gupta

Would you like to comment on that Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is dictating some of the real values we should value in life !!! By the way great articulation of thoughts here.


Whether we have to follow newspapers or current affairs compilation?How to read compilations and most importantly how to recollect in exam?(on an average 80 pages per month)


Amazing, now this blog is of value


Hi Pratyush I was wondering that how does a normal day in your life looks like . I mean where do you devote the time when you are free given that you don’t keep scrolling social media nor do you binge watch tv shows like the majority .
I know that it hardly matters but it would be great to know the answer from your perspective.


Work, hobbies, friends. It’s not very different from anyone else, just being selective about which hobbies you enjoy, which people’s company you enjoy, what work you want to do.


Pratyush, can you suggest some hobbies which one can inculcate during UPSC preparation?

Another question is, what are the things which one should do to be disciplined?

[…] And then to think about why we’re doing whatever we’re doing – is it because of the need to live up to our image? This is where our values enter – something I’ve written about here […]

[…] I like to think the contradictions exist because this all of these ideas are a continuum and you just pick a point on it that suits you – based on what you value. […]

vaishnavi singh

what are ur thougts about realtionships which we value bt dont know if that is gonna be from the other side too cuz wait is for too long bt worth waiting for it to happen.
u can always choose to ignore bt in case u wish to reply please prefer mail cuz if u have choosen to reply it must have been of some value to u.


Have enough respect for yourself to not wait for someone who doesn’t value you equally

vaishnavi singh

what if i dont know if they value me or not cuz noone knows u well unless they really want to know u

vaishnavi singh

okk let us see it this way do u value ur stranger readers as much as they value u [i don’t know ] bt still it’s worth waiting for ur reply cuz i am interested to know ur thoughts .does this mean not to wait for u cuz u don’t value me equally?[taking here a reader -writer relation]


Don’t wait for a response because it’s not anything worth waiting for, it’s not going to be something you couldn’t find anywhere else on the internet


When we buy clothes or anything why do we consider validation of other
Just like posting a pic on SM ?
Like we buy new clothes on a marriage
Do we do that for showing off or we are playing a game