Once upon a time, there was a woman. She lived in a polyamorous, sex-positive family. These things were very important to her — that her children saw good healthy alternative relationships, and understood that whoever they were inside their heart was not only okay, but to be celebrated.
She liked people… just people in general. She thought they were beautiful, and loved to learn (and learned to love) the intricacies of their personalities. Physically, intellectually, emotionally — she saw their strengths and enjoyed them for what they were. But she couldn’t apply the same standards to herself.
When she looked at herself, she saw that she wasn’t trying hard enough. Her house wasn’t clean enough, she wasn’t a good enough mother, or friend, or daughter, or sister, or wife, or girlfriend. She wasn’t beautiful — her face had blemishes and flaws, and her eyes were uneven, and her nose was too big, and her teeth were just awful. She wasn’t smart enough, or clever enough, or funny enough. She definitely wasn’t a good enough writer.
She really wasn’t quite sure why anyone would want to be her friend. She couldn’t fathom how she’d managed to keep a job writing, yet somehow she had more than one. She often felt like she’d wake up one day and her friends and family would realize she was faking it, and she wasn’t worth their time. The people she worked with and for would realize she really wasn’t that good, and wasn’t worth their money.
But sometimes, when she wasn’t paying attention, she could see more clearly.
Once, she was walking into a restaurant and saw a woman on the other side, walking toward her, wearing the same shirt. She thought, “Wow! She’s wearing the same shirt I am! She looks so much better in it though, and I love her hair…” and then she realized that she was looking at a mirror on the wall of the restaurant.
Another time, she was reading an article online, nodding in agreement with the writer, and thinking she’d have to share it on Facebook because it was so well articulated… and suddenly it clicked in her mind that she’d written it. Yep, there was her byline at the bottom.
She didn’t live happily ever after. She struggled and pushed and just kept going, making the happy, and hoping for the ever after.
Yes, I’m the person in that story. Sometimes I focus on my own flaws so much that I don’t even recognize me when I see myself more objectively. I think so many of us suffer from Imposter Syndrome, or simply from the belief that everyone else is somehow doing a better job than we are. This may be magnified in my situation because I’m a lot of things to a lot of people, and though I generally feel secure in those relationships, I sometimes do wonder how I got so lucky. I think, though, it also makes it even more important to recognize when I’m not seeing myself clearly, and take a step back.
So I’m here to tell you, if you ever feel the same, that it’s not true. If you think you’re not smart or funny or clever or pretty or whatever it is that matters to you in this world? First, try to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. Just take a glance at yourself, don’t examine your perceived flaws. Look at something you’ve created with an uncritical eye.
Because you’re awesome. You are beautiful. You deserve to live the life you want to live, and to be an example of how being yourself is okay, and awesome, and necessary — whether you’re a bisexual, polyamorous, secular agnostic, humanist hippie with a dream of living on a commune (like I am), or something else that’s not quite part of the culture of sameness.