Reflections of Ourselves


When I was in high school I have this memory of standing in a bathroom at a dance.  It was filled with girls like me touching up make up and checking out each other’s dresses.  To be honest we were checking each other out period.  Sizing ourselves up against the rest.  I’ve always been pint-sized and had smaller than average everything.  I was a Gidget compared to a Brigette Bardot.  I was a Skipper compared to a Barbie.  And standing there looking at my reflection along with all those others made me feel like I didn’t measure up.

I went to my junior prom with my sister’s fiancé because no one asked me and he took pity on me.  It wasn’t that I thought I was ugly because I knew I wasn’t.  I just didn’t figure I was anyone that guys would want.  I was a good girl, who just kept to myself and my eclectic circle of hand-picked friends.

I was in honors classes but I wasn’t identified as G.A.T.E.  For those who don’t know, that stands for Gifted and Talented.  Almost everyone else in my classes were.  They got invited to Girl’s State, and Mock Trial, and I was left in classes unchosen, ungifted, so I overachieved to prove them all wrong.  But I knew they had something I didn’t.

My world growing up was very small.  I remember going to Der Weinerschniztel, McDonalds, and we got Chinese take out every once in a while.  I remember going to one restaurant as a kid with my family.  We shopped at Zody’s and Kmart and later Target but I never bought anything from a department store.  Ever.  Especially make-up.  Maybelline and Cover Girl were the brands I remember.  I was very intimidated imagining myself walking through Nordstroms interacting with beautiful sales ladies with their perfect make up and hair.

Long story short.  I was insecure.  I didn’t trust nor value my abilities, my looks, and had very little confidence.

Some of it was taken care of just because I grew up, had experiences, and realized I was ok.  Someone told me once that everyone else is just as insecure as me and I needed to approach every new situation with the attitude that I was better than them.  But that just wasn’t me, and it never will be.  I assume the opposite by nature.

Having just got married this topic has come up between Harry and I because we both can’t believe sometimes that we chose each other.  Why me?  Why am I the ONE you want for the rest of your life?  Cause I’m just me and believe me…I’m not that great. 

Harry and I went to high school together and he remembers me differently.  He says guys were afraid to talk to me because I was aloof and too pretty.  He remembers me being one of the smart ones.  He marvels how I’ve reached the ripe age of 40 something with so little life experience but tells me I’m also not without natural skills that help me distinguish a player from a genuine heart.

Both of us have lots going for us in terms of natural ability but we both struggle with insecurity.  Why?

If we based it on evidence alone we should be the most egotistical people we know.  We succeed, achieve, master, and lead.  But despite the evidence we don’t see ourselves that way.

Recently Dove did an experiment where they had several women briefly meet strangers in a waiting room and then go into another room where they described themselves to a sketch artist that couldn’t see them.  Then the strangers were asked to describe the women they had just met to the sketch artist.  When both images were revealed I was astounded how all of the women saw themselves uglier, fatter, more tired, more worn than the strangers.  And how accurate the stranger’s view of the women were when put side to the side with their actual faces.

And I realized that most of us struggle with lots of different insecurities because we don’t see ourselves accurately.

Culture, etiquette, religion, and family dynamics often work to keep our egos at bay.  Be polite, be humble, be selfless.  Because when you spout off that you think you are beautiful, smart, talented, and gifted…well…that’s pretty arrogant.

A Facebook friend put on her status that she was recently in the bathroom and heard a girl come out of a stall, look at herself in the mirror and say out loud.  “You’re so ugly.”

Perhaps we should all stop bashing ourselves.  Because ugly turns into unlovable really quick.  And people who believe they are unlovable have a way of becoming just that.

Perhaps we can each try for one day speaking to ourselves as if we are on a job interview and have to raise our good points…boast a little about how great you are instead of the opposite.

Perhaps husbands and wives should stop wondering why they were chosen and just enjoy the fact instead.

Maybe hearing “how it is” in this world should motivate us to be the exception instead of the rule.  So we’re different, so we can’t be pigeon-holed, so we go after what we want because we believe in ourselves.  So we end up happy instead of miserable self-haters.

Instead of saying, “Why did I get what I did not deserve because I’m ugly, or unworthy?”  Instead of assuming the worst.  Instead of drumming up a bunch of make-believe scenarios of how life is supposed to play out.  Just be grateful.

Sometimes the thing we “hate” about ourselves is what winds up giving us an advantage in life.  Sometimes it’s what others love about us.

At 44 there is a definite advantage to all the things that gave me insecurities as a teen.  Not many 44 year-old women can fit into their daughters clothes and weigh less than 120.   The fact that I was not identified as gifted and talented motivated me to achieve as if I was which meant I was.  And experiencing the world as a small place as a kid allowed me to value the little things in life.  It’s all good.

God works it out that way on purpose.

We should all be less concerned about what we think we are lacking and just live in the moment each day appreciating what we have, who we are, and love as much as we can those who love us back.

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