I Could Be Someone

5 10 2009

I like to think of myself more highly than I ought.  I like to think I am more put-together than most, and more worthy of attention than any others.

I like liking myself more than I actually like my self, one might say.

When explaining the word “vanity” a few weeks ago, I was amused to be reminded that vanity is not just an old word for “pride,” but also an actual room furnishing.  I suppose it is appropriate that a mirror on steroids would be so named.

We spend so much time trying to see ourselves as others see us, all so that we can then present that “self” to those “others” without fearing that they might see something we are unaware of, and be judged or perceived in an unfavorable manner.  When I roll down the window in the car, I always check my reflection before getting out of the car to make sure my hair and clothes are just the way I want them.  Part of this is probably my obsessive side, but vanity is surely the impetus of this action.  I want to know how I am seen, so that I can place myself properly in the ladder of esteem that we all find ourselves placed on by some nebulous group of people.  It’s more than popularity or status; it’s something about our insecure natures wrestling with their desire to be individuals but to conform to the accepted pattern of individuality.  Paradoxical as this is, I’m sure I’ve been perverted by this mindset for years now.  I scoff at the people who buy expensive brands because I judge them as wanting to promote some image of affluence or aloofness while I try to pick out my clothes based on what I want other people to think of how I pick out my outfits.  We all had parents that were too smart to let us dress ourselves (except for this guy), but now we find ourselves on the opposite end of the spectrum.  We wear nothing that has not been approved for us by someone else.  I try to project my “I look like I am fashionable by accident because I don’t really care that much about fashion” look because (I think) I am scared that people might think I am either trying too hard to look like people are supposed to look, or that people will think I am trying too hard not to look like people are supposed to. (Rephrase:  I am trying to something in between hipster and preppy.  Please tell me what this category is, since I’m sure there is one.)

Innocence, once lost, is gone.  We can’t pretend people aren’t watching us anymore, because we know they are — because we are watching them too.  We are so used to finding our self worth by comparing ourselves with those around us that the only way we can convince ourselves to forgo this conformity is to try as hard as possible not to act/dress/scuba like most people.  Either way, we are reacting to others instead of doing what we want to do.

We don’t know what we want anymore because we want to be what we are supposed to be by the majority (or enlightened minority).

So, what do you want?

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