How we (& others) perceive ourselves.

 

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When you look into a mirror what do you see? The person you want to be? Potential? Do you look and think “Hey I’m looking pretty good today” or “Why won’t my hair go right, Is that bags under my eyes, I hate the way I look”?
I suspect it’s maybe the same for most people as it is for me. Sometimes I think I look ok sometimes I hate my looks. I mean when I’m getting ready to go out anywhere I want to try and look my best. Same with what I wear. I don’t just grab the nearest thing to throw on. Does this t-shirt make me look fat? Does this shirt go with these jeans? What earings to wear? It’s all carefully considered to how I want to present myself to the outside world. What message I want to send out to people.

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But it can sometime be a balancing act between what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you look good. Several years ago I sported a goatee and was told by a couple of people it suited me. And at the time I liked it. Now though I find it hard to go outside without being clean shaven. It can make me feel as if I’m not myself. I hate the roughness of my skin. The same with my red hair. Some liked it, some didn’t. And at the moment my hair is rather long. Despite how I love the feel of my hair down the back of my neck I know it looks unruly, untidy and needs a cut. But not too short. A while ago when I was still in a relationship my girlfriend convinced me to let her cut my hair. I do so but regretted it because she cut it shorter then what I had wanted. Why later on when it had grown back I let her cut it again, despite repeating once more not to go to short, I’ll never know.
But the point is this. I felt disappointed because I didn’t want my hair that short. It didn’t feel like me. Now from my girlfriend’s point of view she was cutting it to as style she thought looked good on me. And maybe it did. I can’t deny either that in the past I haven’t sought advice on my looks and style. I had a friend go through my wardrobe once throwing out anything she recommended getting rid of.
Plus I’m the type of person that if I find a style I like, I’ll stick to it or variations of it for a while until my taste change again.
So going back to this balancing act because this is where I’m at right now. I’m beginning to think more about my appearance because there is someone I’m interested in. And my first thought is how can I make myself appear more attractive, plastic surgery not really being an option? And so I begin to look at how to compromise how I like to look with how should I look. Will growing a goatee make me look manlier and attractive? A very short hair cut? Where is the line between what I find comfortable and what makes me look good?

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Now the simple answer to this is, where what you like, look how you want. Be yourself and the right people will like you for being you. And I stick by that advice. But can we trust our own judgement? When I look in the mirror and think “Hey my hair looks great today” that is my own perception. What people outside might see is wild hair all over the place. How many celebrity style disasters have been seen reported in magazines.
So rightly or wrongly we do place a great deal of importance on how others perceive us. I have a Doctor Who scarf, the long Tom Baker one. It is very rare I wear it out because I worried if it looks stupid. But at Christmas time whilst doing some photos I put together an outfit with the scarf that I loved. I thought it looked good, comfortable but not one I would wear out in public.
The reason. Because I liked it along with the wig and makeup. Without it, it doesn’t look right on me. And that’s another thing. Makeup. I’d love to be able to wear it out. And not just as female. There is a guy I fancy like mad and when he wears make up he looks just so damn cute. I wish I could do the same but a lack of confidence both in my skills and my looks stop me from doing so. When I wrote A Girl’s Night Out I found it easy because many of the events that happen comes from my own wishes of what I would love to do.

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There is this fight within myself to go out how I want to and to try and find a way to not look awful. And trust me some of the people I hang around with will let me know when I’m wearing something stupid. I mean I push the boundary. My rainbow laces in my trainers and boots that I got for Pride month a year ago are still on them. I like the look. And I’m happy to wear nail varnish out most of the time, as long as I’ve done a decent enough job on them. So there is already a part of me that doesn’t care what people think.
So why all of a sudden do I feel the need to look my best? Why am I worried about how people see me? Well maybe it’s because I’m falling in love. Yes for the last few weeks I’ve been feeling joy and happiness I’ve not felt for a long time and it’s down to my feelings for this guy. Now before I get too carried away I know there isn’t really much chance of getting with him. That’s not just me being hard on myself but because I’m aware it’s very unlikely to come to fruition and for various reasons. But when I see him I do want to make sure I look good especially if I’m having a photo with them. This brings me to my final point.
We try and present ourselves to the world in the way we want to be seen. Even if you are someone who doesn’t care about style or looking fabulous it’s still a statement saying I don’t care what people think, this is me. But when there is someone you want to look good in front of, that’s when you start to make a little bit more effort. In my past there was a girl I really fell for. It’s been a few years but I have never fully gotten over her. The thing was though because of her I always made an effort to look as good as I could. It was a great motivator to look after myself (although dropping a dress size is currently working for me, I hope).
But I was trying to present myself as someone she might find attractive. I took on her advice on what to wear, how to have my hair. To grow a beard because I wanted to look good for her. And because of my feelings for her, because I was worried about what she thought of me I missed out of some opportunities. Had I confided in her of how I wanted to look maybe I could have been myself instead. She was great at makeup and I always resisted the temptation to ask her for lessons and tips.
So what is the answer for me now? When I next see this guy I want to look good, but I also know I need to be myself. I have to find a balance of looking good and being comfortable. I’m not sure yet how that is going to work out. I’m working on bits of myself I don’t like to try and improve, not just for others but also for myself. It’s a work in progress. Finally today I’ve had new crowns fitted. I can smile again without feeling uncomfortable.

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2 thoughts on “How we (& others) perceive ourselves.”

    1. It’s good sometimes to experiment outside your comfort zone. To try new styles and see how you feel. But ultimately if you feel uncomfortable and conscious of how you look then you’re trying to be someone you’re not. You’re simply making the change to please others and not yourself.

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