What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see the same thing when you look at a selfie? These questions posted by @SarahDanne on Twitter started a little experiment. Four strangers came together to compare the myth of the mirror versus the reality seen from outside observers. The “I See Me” project is an experiment into how we see ourselves and define our worth.
The process for our experiment was simple. We each posted a “run of the mill” selfie for all to see. The purpose was to just take a simple picture, not a perfect shot. Next up, tell the group what you see when you look at the photo. Finally, the group posted their own observations on each person’s photo. The question – will we all see the same thing?
What I Saw in the Picture
I just hate selfies! I see forced smiles that are never at the right angle. Where is that good side we all have? I see dark circles and tired eyes and smile lines that were not there 5 years ago. I see constant hustle that always falls just short of accomplishing the task at hand. I see a busy mom who worries I’m getting it all wrong and wants desperately to get it all right. I also see a blessed woman with a full life. My blessings are matched by my need for perfection, and blessings most often come with imperfection. Imperfection rules my life. It drives me, but down dark paths. I smile on the outside, but my inner monologue does not follow suit.
What Others Saw in the Picture
That is a lovely selfie. The thing about Moms, especially the tired ones and the worried ones, they radiate love. Because you care enough about parenting that you actually give it some thought and follow through. That will mean so much to all your loved ones down the line. Your eyes are alive and expressive. You have this strength about you!
Hi Mama! That is a look of dedication and devotion, which many faces lack. Your smile is unique, your eyes are loving, and your good side is your whole self. I’m proud of you!
Laugh lines are the best. I love your laugh lines! What a sign of a full and lovely life! They make me want to laugh with you! I see someone who cares. A lot. A mom and friend and lovely person who just, simply, CARES. And that is beyond beautiful. Just trying to be a good mom means that you are. Life is chaos, you are the stability, strong mama. You’re a rock for all those around you.
Myth vs. Reality
My own narrative is drastically different from the story others are telling me. For this little project, there is no history. We are four virtual strangers, who know each other only through our twitter feed and writing platforms. It is easy to push an opinion aside when it comes from a parent, friend, or spouse. With these people there is history and with history comes perceived bias. How can one negate the positive opinions of strangers?
The myth I tell myself is that I can do better. I am not enough. I need to try harder. The reality is that I am far harder on myself than any other person will ever be. I am drawn to imperfections and failures, rather than celebrating the here and now. A selfie is simply one moment in an infinite number of moments. Does that single moment need to hold such a powerful grip on my mind and heart?
Our little experiment started me on a soul searching journey. Perfection is the enemy of joy. I need to do some mind work on my value outside of perfect. The reality is perfection is an unattainable goal. No human walking on this earth is perfect. Striving for the unattainable will only bring shame and sadness into my life. I deserve more!
My perfectionism is deeply rooted in my psyche. It is not something that will go away tomorrow. I will need to make a conscious and diligent effort to change my mindset. Do I expect perfection from the people around me? The answer is no. I need to give myself the grace that I give to others. I need to be the example to my children that everyone needs to be their best self, but no one is perfect. Our best self is enough and will take us everywhere we need to go.
4 People – 4 Perspectives
Now that you’ve read my perspective, I invite you to read the thoughts and ideas of the other participants in the “I See Me” project. Click the links below:
Next time you attempt to snap the perfect selfie, remind yourself perfection is a lie and has no place in our hearts. We all have amazing things to offer this world, despite the imperfections we find in the mirror or in a photo. Our legacy will not be defined by our perceived imperfections, but instead by the impact we make on the world around us. Share your gifts, ideas, creativity, and shine your light to those around you. Define your legacy not by the mirror and instead by your actions. Live your best life!