Recently I was in conversation with a woman who by most standards, is stunningly beautiful; tall and statuesque, well groomed and decked out…..and yet….she has inner hammering thoughts that say she isn’t thin enough and attractive enough. She is nearly constantly comparing herself with others; women in the supermarket, in cars next to her on a highway. How she looks matters more than who she is. I felt a sense of sadness as I listened to her. She is successful in most people’s view, with a well paying job and yet, she doubts her value. I wondered instead about her values, so I asked her if presentation matters more than perception. I felt even more dismayed when I heard her answer and applied it to my own life. I sometimes make how I present to the world more important than my own perception of who I am. One thing I know for sure, is that no matter HOW I present myself, I have absolutely no control over how anyone perceives me.
That’s when I need to take personal inventory and ask if my behaviors are in alignment with my values. Am I acting in such ways as to manipulate people into seeing me as I want to be seen or am I genuinely moving from heart and consciousness? There was a time when I attempted to micromanage my relationships, wanting only be seen in a certain light, so as to get my needs met. These days, my intentions are more pure (remembering that I am a human BE-ing and a work in progress) and not meant to control any0ne’s opinion. When I fall into that old pattern, life shows up in such a way that reminds me to be clean in my interactions.
When I look in the mirror, I sometimes see a different image than others do. Most people find it hard to believe that I am 54; but I can assure you by showing you my birth certificate that I was born in 1958. There are days when I feel 24 and some days 74. When I look on a surface level, I see wrinkles, and gray hairs and when I look more closely, I take in the image of a woman with laugh lines and well earned silver sprouting in between the dark chestnut elfin shorn hair. My energy peaks and ebbs depending on activity level and requirements of my day. I am not afraid of growing old, since my role models for aging have been mostly positive. Most who fear aging usually verbalize that it is because they see it as a downhill slide into losing vitality. Instead, I view it as an ongoing experience, a drinking in of life, slurping from the bottom of the glass, rather than pushing it away out of fear of loss. Such a paradox.
At the end of any given day, if I can look in the mirror and feel in harmony with the face gazing back at me, then perception and presentation are one.
For all who doubt their beauty and measure it by unrealistic standards.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOfhbLn8fw8 Beautiful by India.Arie