The Self Portrait

So I completely failed last week in terms of posting on this blog – I’m committed to posting three times a week, even if it’s just sharing stupid little inspirational videos, but so far my success rate at that is 50%.  I’d make excuses or reprimand myself, but that tends to be counter-productive.  If I can’t give myself a break, who will?  Just do better this week, self.  Just do better.

I’ve been thinking about self portraits lately.  Part of this stems from having a smart phone that easily doubles as a decent point-and-shoot camera, and the endless photo editing apps you can download (and I have downloaded many).  This has gotten me in the habit of taking more pictures in general, but more specifically pictures of random moments of the day.  And this includes self portraits like the one on the right.  The phone camera allows me to take photos with angles and lighting that are the most helpful in creating a version of me that I would like to believe I am.  A decent representation I feel comfortable putting out into the world, which helps me feel just a little bit better about myself.

Facebook is a good example of the self portrait.  For the most part, the crap we put on facebook represents the best of ourselves – or, what we perceive is the best.  We are painting a picture of our lives for others to look at and interact with.  Who we are online is not a lie – but often it is a more exaggerated version – exaggerated in all the right places – emphasizing the parts we like the most, and barely whispering the parts we’re most embarrassed by.

There’s no accounting what other people will put online about you though.  As an example, when I post pictures, I’m usually careful to post photos of myself that are the least telling of the fact that I weigh 17-20lbs more than I did in high school (depending on the day).  Others are not always quite as sensitive.

My point is, a self portrait – whether it is a literal picture of yourself or a resume or a status update on facebook – is hardly ever accurate.  Everything I put in a resume or facebook or whatever tends to skew more positive – I secretly hope that if I put that version out into the universe, this successful, talented, completely put together version of me, maybe the real me will hurry the hell up and become that version.

On the flip side, the version of me that comes out when I look in the mirror, when I’m alone in my apartment with my thoughts late at night, is skewed to the negative.  My poor qualities are circled with a bright red sharpie and everything I’ve ever worked for or been proud of seems like so much shit on a lawn.

I find this in the projects I work on – there is a struggle between who I want my characters to be and who they really are, the parts of me that show up in them that I both love and hate.  As a writer I am all of my characters, and none of them.  It is always the darker characters, the ones who become their own villains, that I find the most interesting and connect to.  Eventually, we all become the villains of our own stories – some of us remain that way, while others find a way to become the hero.

There is a balance you have to find – between that image you are aspiring to and the one colored by negativity of others and your own crippling self doubt.  Knowing your limits without letting them rule you.  Knowing your strengths without being egoistical or letting those strengths trap you.  Knowing your successes and failures but letting neither one dictate your fate or control who you are as a person.

I’ve grown to really like that person I am on facebook.  I hope someday I can be just a little bit like her.

One thought on “The Self Portrait

  1. Great blog… So thoughtful and well-stated… So… accurate!

    I can’t help but say that you are even better than your Facebook self in my eyes!

    I don’t hang out on Facebook so much, so my “Facebook persona” isn’t quite so clear to me, but I’m very conscious of what I post there – wanting to put only that “best” foot forward… Since I’m not on there so much, I suppose your portrait there is broader and deeper than I know at this point. But I am so happy I get to know you in person more…

    And I’m really digging reading your blog! ;D

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