Your Voice

Your Voice: Seeing ourselves through the eyes of the Matryoshka dolls

Sometimes, it takes a bit of polishing and a lot of experience to find the beauty within.

Your Voice: Seeing ourselves through the eyes of the Matryoshka dolls

Russia's organization of the FIFA World Cup on 2018 opened our eyes to the famous Russian Matryoshka dolls. First carved in the late 19th century by Russian craftsman Vasily Zvyozdochkin, the dolls’ outer shell features a Russian woman dress in a traditional peasant dress. Then, a number of wooden dolls of decreasing size are placed one inside another, each hidden until the larger doll is dissembled.


The number of small dolls inside the Matryoshka doll ranges from three to five, all in the form of an egg with a flat base consisting of a top part and a bottom part. The smallest doll is a single piece of wood that is not hollow and does not separate at the middle.


Over time, Matryoshka dolls have evolved to feature various models and sizes, even models for World Cup players on the occasion of the organization of the tournament. 


My youngest son asked me which of various sized dolls is the best. I answered the smallest is, because it is more complete compared to the others. He was satisfied with the answer and continued to play.


But his question stimulated my mind and raised more questions to me as well. Is the smallest really the best, or is it the largest because it contains all the others? And does the Matryoshka design mean something to us, who we are and our lives in general?


Personally, I think the smallest represents the “essence” of the doll, as we must make an effort to reach it (by opening the encasing dolls over and over.) As in life, we must go through many experiences to polish ourselves – to become the best we have. Like the Mica schist, which must be polished heavily to extract the precious stones within, we must do the same.


How many people have a talent similar to this gem, present but buried and in need of a lot of refinement and training until it can be shown to others? One of the theories of training in human development is called the 10,000-hour rule, which is the duration of skill training until it reaches the level of creativity and professionalism.


On the other hand, there are those whose essence is beautiful but they not show it to others for some reason. I remember one employee I worked with who dealt arrogantly with colleagues, often touting what he believed to be his superior intelligence and job related acumen. Because of this, he was ostracized, and everyone avoided him.


Undoubtedly, this might impact his personal growth and hamper his career in the future. During a counseling session as his direct supervisor, I gave him this one piece of advice: "Do not deprive others to see your inner beauty.”


This, in short, is my story with Matryoshka dolls. What is yours?


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