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day 8 – how we see ourselves

November 8, 2008
photo taken by nestor

photo taken by nestor

This photo was taken by a man named Nestor.  I met him randomly at the Botanical Gardens one evening in June.  I was taking photos of poppies, he was taking photos of lupines, we got to talking and ended up walking through the gardens together for 3 hours, shooting flowers and landscapes, playing with cloning techniques and talking about life.  Then we went our separate ways, said perhaps we would meet again when the lilies were in bloom but I knew that probably wouldn’t happen.  Sometimes there is more magic in a single chance encounter and it’s best to keep it that way… keeps the magic alive.

When I look at this photo, I am reminded of how we see ourselves.  After so many years of focusing on those things that I don’t like about myself, I can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. They are present every day, those negative voices in my head, some are whispers, some are like venom, poisoning my thoughts, locking me into a mold of my own making, comparing me to others who are prettier, smarter, funnier, better, more creative, more successful…. It’s all terribly tiring and sometimes I want to shout can someone puhleese turn the volume down up there.  It can get pretty deafening.  We all do it… I know you do too.

And so it always comes as a surprise when I discover that other people don’t see me the way I see myself at all.  The words they use to describe me are words that are rarely or never used by the voices up there.

Case in point…

This summer, while I was living with my cousin, her friend came to visit from the States.   We all had dinner together and the next day he and his wife left and that was that.   A week later, Amy received an email from him, thanking her for such a lovely time and passing on his greetings to me.  And then he proceeded to say that rarely has he ever met someone as charismatic as me.  Whoa!  Hold the phone!  Charismatic?  I’ve never ever thought of myself as being charismatic… but it sure did make me feel warm and fuzzy to be considered for the part.

Then a month ago, I met a College Art Teacher in the laundry room.  We struck up a conversation about God knows what, when all of a sudden he stopped mid-sentence and said:  “You’re a bright girl, aren’t you?  I can see it in your eyes.

A couple weeks ago, a woman in the building whom I recently befriended said that whenever she sees me, she feels compelled to hug me.  I invite hugs, she said.

And tonight, as I walked up the stairs to my apartment, I met another member of the Coop.  I introduced myself, shook her hand and out of the blue she said: “My god, you just radiate charm“.  Just like that.

I admire people who spontaneously give praise.  It’s like getting a surprise package in the mail.  Still, even when I do receive a compliment, I have to water it down.  It’s almost like a stiff drink that burns as you swallow it.   Why is it so difficult for us to hear words of kindness extended towards us?  Even as I share these stories, I’m thinking that it comes across as vain.  Who do I think I am?  Why do we feel more comfortable with putting ourselves down than proudly sharing our strengths (or even seeing them to begin with)?  Are the views we have of ourselves that distorted, like the reflection of a fun house mirror?

I do believe we all need to start seeing the golden within us.  Don’t ya think?  What compliment has someone paid you recently?  What do you like about yourself?


Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece.
You cannot be improved. You have only to come to it, to know it, to realize it.
” ~Osho

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2008 4:51 am

    What a fabulous post, and photo to boot. A lot to think about,…thank you.

  2. Frannie permalink
    November 9, 2008 7:00 am

    I’ll tell you what struck me most about this post. All the people who gave you those compliments were people who had met you for the first time when you were going through the MOST UNHAPPY PERIOD OF YOUR LIFE! And yet they could still immediately spot that vivacity, and charm, and joie de vive which is so characteristic of you no matter what. And now that you’re feeling so much better about life? Oh babe, there will be no stopping you. I am so glad to know you and am going to enjoy watching what you do over the next few years. You is a kick ass gal, my friend.

  3. Frannie permalink
    November 9, 2008 7:08 am

    PS. Great pic!

  4. Alison permalink
    November 9, 2008 4:23 pm

    First of all that picture is totally amazing. I’ve sat in those same chairs myself but never quite came across the same way as you do. hee hee
    As for those compliments YOU SO DESERVE THEM!!!!! All of them and more. And I’m not biased I’m just aware.
    I guess my latest compliment, if that’s what this is, was that I was an inspiration to different people. You know why they said that. I don’t see myself that way but perhaps as you said it’s not how we see ourselves, it’s how others do and if by what we do we inspire, or charm or amaze then so be it. 🙂

  5. November 9, 2008 8:58 pm

    wonderful post thank you for writing it.
    you seem like an amazing girl!

  6. November 10, 2008 3:48 pm

    What a fantastic post! I am often intrigued by other people see me compared to how I see myself. What do I like about myself? Well, physically I like my eyes and I am tired of not being able to see them because they are always behind glasses so I am on the phone right now inquiring about laser eye surgery. 🙂 This is something I have wanted to do for years.

  7. November 18, 2008 10:47 am

    love that photo and love that you can embrace and talk about the compliments people give you 🙂 we are all so much more than the gremlins inside tell us we are … xo

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