No One is Harder on You Than Yourself (mostly true)
Note: Not sure what went wrong, but I have lost a couple of hours of work on this blog. I typed out the questions below and then answered them truthfully. I thought about my answers all day the following day; if I’m going to be honest with myself, the answers were disturbing — lots of self-loathing. My computer failed to save my answers; divinely intervention? I’m going to complete the same exercise again, being kinder to myself this time. It will be interesting to read back my responses in order to determine if my current state of mind influenced my answers. I will report on this assessment. I should also note that I abandoned this blog three times. I obviously did not want to write it . . . or did I?
An Honest Conversation With Myself
Putting the above photo collage together was difficult. I usually hate photos of myself. Today I am asking myself why I have such a hard time looking at my photos:
- Are you unhappy with the way you look in the photos (in general)?
- Is any reminder of your looks repulsive?
- Do you think it’s vain to post photos of yourself?
- Do you ever attempt to alter your image?
- Would you like to look different? How different?
- Are you obsessed with the way you look?
These are tough questions; answering them honestly will be even more difficult.
Are you unhappy with the way you look in the photos (in general)? I am, yes. I was never happy with photos of myself, even when I was in my 20s and 30s.
Is any reminder of your looks repulsive? Not repulsive; however, it’s rare when I am not disgusted with the way I look in a photo. Of all the photos at the top, the bottom right is the only one I like. I was very relaxed and at peace that day (in the Azores).
Do you think it’s vain to post photos of yourself? I do. I think people who post pictures of themselves on a daily basis may be dealing with some sort of issue — I don’t necessarily think they are vain, they might need positive feedback or praise (just one possibility). I feel sort of righteous stating this; I don’t like it.
Do you ever attempt to alter your image? I rarely do. I usually consider that I should have thought about it, but by then, it’s too late.
Would you like to look different? How different? I would. I don’t mind my age; however, the bald, pasty, sagging neck look is unattractive. I would not mind for all of that to go away. I realize two things: First, I’m not alone in how I feel about myself, and second, I won’t ever do anything to alter the way I look. I am disgusted by dramatic plastic surgery. There I go being righteous again. People should be able to enhance/alter/change their looks, without judgment from others.
Are you obsessed with the way you look? I think the word is more “reoccupied.”
Reading back my answers makes me sad. I’d like to be happy with my looks. No, no, I’d settle for satisfied actually. I don’t like that I care so much. When I ask people in their 80s about this, they tell me that they no longer give a shit. What that tells me is, I just need to be patient. I also need to be a whole less judgmental.
I’m not going to go into this in any great detail; however, I do think people prefer pretty/handsome people. I’m not sure how conscious we are of this.
Are you influenced by societal expectations or the expectations of others? I’d like to think that I am not, but that would be lying to myself.
The first comment when you see people you know is often, “You look great! Or, you’ve lost weight. Or, you have changed a bit.” It’s all very superficial and only reinforces the importance of how we are supposed to look. I wonder if that will ever change?
I go to the gym five or six times a week, I watch what I eat, I give myself a facial a few times a year, I shave more than I’d like to, and I try to dress well (not stylishly, but I like looking neat and feeling comfortable). I’d like to trust that I’m doing enough for my self-image.
Detaching Versus Fully Embracing
There are times when living in denial seems a whole lot easier. Is it completely necessary to examine certain aspects of who you are? I ask myself this question often. For now, I’m going to say the answer is yes.
This isn’t about my looks necessarily; however, it is about self-esteem. The older I get the more I realize that compromise and placating myself is key when dealing with major life questions and issues. I’m talking about negotiating with yourself. Here’s how an internal conversation might go:
What’s bothering you today? I’m pissed off that blank ignored me at the restaurant last night. In what way did you feel ignored? Blank didn’t ask me a single question about myself and blank didn’t listen to anything I said. This person is not a friend, it’s someone you know from an expat group; why does what they think matter? It doesn’t matter, it shouldn’t matter.
Oddly enough I do feel better after this back and forth with myself.
The End Goal
A very simple end goal for me is: I want to be so secure with myself that any notion of how I am perceived by others would be meaningless and quickly dismissed. Well, fat chance it could ever be that easy. I’m thinking there is a place I can settle into. For example, a place where the people I trust and love matter a great deal and others matter less. I want to be so comfortable with myself, that I can just be me. Period, end of story. I’m laughing out loud because I have a long, long way to go.