Many people are exclusively preoccupied with making an impression. They invest in cultivating a certain image to elicit as much response from others as possible – positive 👍🏻 😀😂😆 or negative 👎🏻 😡 🤮.
The driving forces behind one’s intent to attract external input vary, but appear to have a common denominator: people want to feel real because they do not believe that they are real.
Why wouldn’t people feel that they are real and require constant affirmation? Probably because we believe that we exist only if someone else sees us. Most want themselves reflected back to them and acknowledged. They desire to leave an impression on others and only the impression they want others to have.
The uncertainty surrounding death adds to the dilemma, igniting one’s wish for permanence of some sort: “What can I produce so that I am remembered? Who do I have to be to leave a lasting legacy? What is my legacy?”
Carrying the belief that our life must somehow sparkle and shine brighter (or brightest) only to be noticed is a heavy burden to bear and results in much drama. Instead of discovering oneself and allowing oneself to unfold, much time is spent on cultivating an image, a facade, a persona – an avatar. Ironically, the result may be as fake as the cherrypicked images posted in social media profiles, and as ephemeral as the brief flashes of photons from these images on our retinas.
We are all asked to paint a self-portrait at least once during our schooling. The goal of the assignment is typically to help us connect with how we see ourselves. We present an interpretation that passes through many filters of self-doubt, and then proceed to “Photoshop” ourselves into the reflection we wish others to see. We erase or camouflage what we want to hide, and we emphasize and enhance that which we feel we unfairly lack. The rest of the world is left confused by the resulting cardboard cutout, where we have actually reduced our lives to disposable cliches. We simplified and flattened ourselves into Bitmojis with a few generic lines and facial expressions. In doing so, we literally rejected the essence that makes us unique and – therefore – beautiful.
Imagine a house with no mirrors. You walk the halls and enter rooms with no idea of how you appear. But, you feel yourself strongly and undeniably – your presence. Every movement emerges from your awareness. Every gesture is you shining and giving something back to life. You are comfortable being undefined by reflections. You are a continuous creative process and any static definition is senseless.
We were built to live as flux. Yet, ironically, people want others to stay the same. However, we have the capacity to literally transform – and not just change up the foods we like to eat.
Dramatic changes frighten most people. I understand. It is even more frightening when the changes don’t stop. However, I did eventually embrace living as change and then my life became easier. It is freeing to live as this flux without feeling the need to be something very specific. Pleasing others just for the sake of connection becomes impossible, but the alternative is to constantly check my reflection – this no longer fits.
If we took just a few minutes a day to bask in our own presence, we would be more relaxed to letting go into a whole other dimension of seeing and living. Confidence, resilience, self-control, and joy would become naturally emergent in our lives. It is because we resist our natural state so much that we struggle with self-image.
When you become your own best friend, you realize the true value ofothers.