I was talking to a friend a while back – she’s someone who has always struck me as effortlessly level-headed and competent. A woman who has, in the common parlance of today, her shit together. Who you’d call to bail you out of jail, because there is no way she’d be stupid enough to get caught alongside you.
So I was rather stunned when she told me that she was certain she came off as scatterbrained and spaced-out. The kind of person who would forget her jeans/underwear/cat in dryer until wrinkles had set in and then had to run the load all over again.
I mean, I’m speculating here. She doesn’t have a cat.
But it reminded me of something that I think about often, which is this: we tend to see ourselves differently than others do. We think we’re weirder, more unhinged, and less all-around wonderful than the people around us do. We really are our own worst critics.
Jane recently posted some of her wedding photos on Facebook, and after clicking through a few of them, I have concluded that the photographer must have hated me. Either that, or I was making crazy face for 8 solid hours (a new record!). Because almost every photo of me is terrible.
And I started to wonder if I wasn’t overly critical of myself at all – if maybe I was absolutely spot on. Maybe I really am as awkward and weird as I fear I might be.
Then I saw the photos that Rand took of me from that same trip. The one of me, curled up on the floor of our hotel room, after I’d spent the afternoon vomiting into a toilet, because I get miserable motion sickness and can’t handle a 20-minute cab ride through Milan. Rand said I looked like a painting. I was so sick I couldn’t stand; he saw a Degas.
Or this one, outside our hotel in England, where I’m wearing not a stitch of make-up, and still he’s managed to make me look photoshopped.
He’s able to do that, somehow. To capture me as lovely and lovable, even when I’m sick or tired or cranky.
I wonder what would happen if I was able to see myself the way he does. If I would be impervious to whatever the heavens threw at me, be it rain or snow or hate mail.
Sometimes I try to be the person that he captures on his camera. The one who is carefree. Gilt-edged. Bulletproof.
It’s not who I think I am. His view – through glasses that are rose-colored, and frosted and three-inches thick- is probably just as inaccurate as how I see myself. But I’m going to try it, anyway. Because in his reality, everything is beautiful.