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21/10/2019: How We See Ourselves

During the Summer, I bumped into someone I’d not seen for well over a year. I’d been out and about shopping, it was hot and I was exhausted. I’d chosen not to wear make-up that day, I needed a haircut and wasn’t wearing particularly trendy clothing so I probably couldn’t have looked worse if I tried.

They asked how I was but it was given with a sympathetic tone, sad eyes and a head-tilt. They added that I didn't look too good or words to that effect. Infuriatingly, I gave a response as to why I might not be looking so great, basically justifying their question. I remember feeling tired and decided at that split second it was easier to agree with their thoughts than to explain why I looked how I looked because I didn’t want to offend them by disagreeing.

This stayed with me but got me wondering. Unfortunately, for those flashes of moments, those snapshots in time when we see others as they live their lives, we make judgements based on the image in front of us. It's rather like those unfair headline shots that magazines take of celebrities they've papped during an off-day.

Thankfully, I’m neither a celebrity nor was I papped but I did feel exposed and vulnerable for weeks afterwards. I felt like I’d let the person down because I wasn’t looking smart and on top of life in the unexpected instant they saw me. Instead I felt like the stereotypical menopause-laden middle-aged woman who should probably just give up now, you know the one society has historically suggested we should become because we serve no purpose now. (I’m carrying no bitter baggage from that societal view, you can tell, can’t you?)

The thing is, how we see ourselves is different to how others see us. I see me in several different ways: the wife and mother, the friend to some, the acquaintance to more, the professional me, the private me. There’s a lot of them just as there are a lot of you too.

I clothe myself appropriately each day for the tasks I need to complete – whatever that is: writing/meetings/shopping/etc. So why did I expect others to see me looking professionally clothed during the weekend surrounded by my family in an informal setting?

Inside is quite different to how I appear on the outside, just as it is for most of us. After all, the outside is purely just a vessel to take us from one place to another and it’s the inside that counts. Except, often, you’re only judged on the outside view.

Do you project your inner insecurities onto others and see them as lesser people to make yourself feel better or do you see everyone as better than you because you *know* you’re not worthy? Or do you just talk to people, say hi and move on without giving it a further thought?

I suspect we’d all like to be the third option but I wonder how many of us are the first or second?

Since that day, I’ve taken my own advice, or No 4, as it says on my Twitter pinned tweet: Don’t compare yourself or your journey with others’.

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