So my flat in France has this giant mirror leaning on the wall next to the bathroom. I’ve had to get used to seeing a lot of myself, so to speak. The first day i arrived here, I was like, oo I can’t be that big, it must be the tilt of the mirror ;), but since I’ve gotten used to the mirror being there, and seeing myself in all my glory in one fell swoop. I think it has been a helpful and accurate way of knowing what I really look like, and I’ve accepted my body shape a bit more as a result. It has given me a bit of confidence to really get a full-length perspective on what I really do look like in the morning.
This blog is also a mirror, and gives me a chance to examine the way I see myself and the world.So is my google search keywords that pop up automatically, my Facebook timeline, twitter, and my browser history. Not to mention those personality tests we take all the time in b-school, and i delight in taking on Okcupid (no judgement please lol).
The people we surround ourselves with are certainly mirrors, and their behavior towards us is how we gauge ourselves so much of the time. We seek mirrors we think are accurate, since in social settings there’s not a clear right or wrong. But we tend to group with people that are similar to us, and if you have a good view of yourself, your friends will likely reflect that and be supportive of who you are. If you have a negative view of yourself, you will probably surround yourself with people who don’t quite get you, who represent a “normal” you might subconsciously aspire to, and who might not really encourage you to be your unique self. Our social networks reflect who we are on an inner level and how we see ourselves.
Most of these mirrors, these feedback mechanisms, aren’t a simple one way street. Though I can have a certain reaction to the mirror in my apartment, and change myself to more of the reflection I’d like to have, or wear something a little different if the effect doesn’t please me, it is me who decides what to do with the mirror says, and not the mirror that tells me what to do. With social networks, the problem is more complicated. Other people actively participate in how we perceive the world and ourselves. They have their own interests at stake, their own biases and values, etc. Our friend’s reflection of us, and the way they encourage us to behave, implicitly or explicitly, is also a reflection of how they see the world and themselves. It is much easier to be close to someone who is similar than someone who is not in this way, because the worlds you have constructed are more similar.This can be positive or negative, depending on the types of people we surround ourselves with. They can either enhance the positive or bring us down even more.
I suggest, above all, that you find people who you WANT to be like, yet who encourage you to be your best self as well. People bring out the best and worst in us, and we need to be really aware of this. You need only remember some of the great and terrible things people in groups have done. A few months ago, I got a message from a person I’d more or less cut ties with after our toxic relationship, which had taken a toll on my friends tired of my constant anxieties related to it. The same night I talked to those friends who had told me how tired theyy were of hearing about him, who I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. I don’t blame my friends in a way, I really did need to cut ties with him, move on, and stop bitching about it, but I also think that maybe those friendships in some way reinforced that relationship and my less than perfect self esteem at the time. I am not saying they weren’t good people, just that somehow, there was a negative environment created for all involved in the fiasco. The timing really made me think.
Today, i started the day with a really kind comment from americantaitai, and it was a great reflection to start with. But before that, I made the decision that my thoughts were worth writing about and I had something valid to say. I guess americaintaitai reflected me on that. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we must dare to behold ourselves first. And also confront our assumptions on what is beautiful. Don’t go through your life waiting for Prince Charming in the form of One Direction or some other deus ex machina to tell you your beautiful. It’s ok to know you are beautiful just as you are and feel good about yourself. You don’t have to have any delusions of grandeur or think that you are perfect and stop trying to improve to feel good about yourself, so start today. I also think, from my experience at least, that as your love for yourself is fully realized, you will somehow find people who truly love you as you are. This is not saying that you are fully responsible for your environment or its effect on you, just that you should focus on loving yourself because 1) that’s the goal anyway-no matter what other people think of you, it’s not going to help if you don’t love yourself and 2) that’s what you can control.
So many of us see all the pain and sorrow and injustice there is in the world and want to do something about it. We feel a responsibility beyond ourselves and our immediate environment, but have only limited ability to implement our visions. In many ways, honestly, the human race is kind of broken and sometimes the best we can do is to smile at someone having a bad day. Not everyone needs to or can start a non-profit or go join the Peace Corps to save the world. But,
The foolish man tries to change the world, the wise man focuses on improving himself. (unknown)
So use your mirrors well, not for complacency and vanity but as a means of changing the world through deeper reflection, and more conscious action.
We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.- Shakespeare