Tag Archives: story

Instalove

I was describing my new Christmas pyjamas to someone recently when she asked if I’d taken a photo of myself in said pyjamas and posted it on Instagram or Facebook because, she continued: “So-and-so* tells me you’ve been taking a lot of photos of yourself lately.” *Name has been changed to protect anonymity.

I felt annoyed and embarrassed. Because (a): People were talking about me behind my back. And (b): If they were saying it, how many others were? I worried that I’d appear vain or insecure or both.

I chided myself for getting upset over such a trivial matter. Then, I remembered that I don’t give out to myself any more. I reminded myself that I’m human and I still care what others think of me, though less so than before. Thankfully!

I realised that I don’t have to take the comment in a negative way. It doesn’t mean that these people don’t like me. It was a simple observation. Like: “Sheesh Sharon, you’ve been going on a lot of cycles lately!” or “Wow, you drank a lot of water today.”

Clearly, this has stirred something in me. Something that was already there. It just took this comment to shine a light on it. So I hacked into my two earlier points and came up with the following:

(a) I don’t want people to speak about me behind my back. Is that true? Well, I’d quite like it actually if they were talking about how talented and gorgeous I am. And if they’re saying something negative, would I rather they say it to my face? Not really.

(b) I was worrying about people thinking I was vain or insecure. The irony is that I was being vain and insecure by worrying about being seen as vain and insecure.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

These days, many girls (and guys for that matter) are taking selfies with their cellphones. And with the prevalence of amazing App Instagram, we can paint ourselves in fantastically forgiving filters.

The thing is, I love beautiful things. I enjoy taking pictures of them and I delight in Instagramming them, then sharing them via social media. I actually take plenty more pictures of nature than I do of myself. So why is it more acceptable to upload shots of flowers and trees than profiles of your fabulous self?

It’s because you’ll be seen as “up yourself” or “too big for your boots”. The confidence of the Americans is often perceived as brash and annoying across the Atlantic. It’s a rather Irish trait to not want to be seen as “getting ahead of yourself”. Modesty is our currency. No wonder we’re broke.

All the personal development books tell us to love ourselves but sure that’s a daft notion to us Irish. “That wan really loves herself” is a horrific insult round these parts. And we’d feel mad foolish speaking affirmations into a mirror!

I distinctly remember, as a very small child, being read a lovely fairy-tale. The heroine of the story was a beautiful young thing who didn’t know how beautiful she was. This only made her more beautiful to all who witnessed her shy beauty. However, she believed she was a dreadful, lowly creature. She lived her life this way until, one day, a dashing prince set his eyes on her and fell head over heels in love, much to her total astonishment. And, of course, they lived happily ever after. The end.

At the tender age of five years, I decided that I would be just like that fictional doormat of a character. To think of myself as less than was surely the right way to do it. I can’t logic this out for you now as I can’t quite get back into the mindset of that tiny child. But it’s no wonder it’s been a long, challenging process turning it all around.

The fact that I now see myself or my new haircut or the bright orange of the scarf I’m wearing in the same admiring light as the autumn leaves or the ocean or that delicious cupcake I’m about to scoff is wonderful.

I don’t think these people did anything wrong for making such a comment. A comment is just a comment. It is my reaction to it that matters. I looked at my reaction, thanks to the light that was shone upon it, and accepted it.

I’m delighted I’ve come this far. And for me, social media is all about sharing. One day, I’ll want to share with you my latest blog or a stunning piece of music. The next, I’ll post an inspirational quote or a picture I just took of a woman who loves herself.

picasaweb.google.com

picasaweb.google.com

The Deception in Perception

One evening, my friend told me about a fight she’d had with a friend of hers. She finished her anecdote with the statement: “Oh my God, I’m a complete psycho!” Hearing herself say the story aloud made her realise that she may have overreacted.

I went on to tell my friend about a guy I was dating four or five years ago. He came from a far-off land (Italy). I mentioned our email correspondence, which hadn’t ended well. “He was a real A$5hol€,” I added for good measure. “I might still have the emails,” I squealed excitedly. Minutes later, I managed to retrieve them. When I read the last email my Italian beau had written, I was surprised to find that, in parts, he had actually been quite nice and affectionate. I definitely hadn’t remembered that. As I read the last email I’d sent him, I visibly cringed. I sounded moany and needy. I hadn’t remembered that either. Yes, there were parts of his email that were defensive and uncompromising and parts of mine that were fair but, up until now, they had been the only parts I’d remembered.

Revisiting a memory when your emotions aren’t running high, when you’re not too attached to your story and when your ego has taken more of a back seat, can be quite revealing. My friend and I had, one after the other, found that we’d perceived the event in a very different way than it had actually occurred. We had been convinced of our innocence. It was hard for us to admit that we had a part to play in the drama but at least we were open to letting go of the need to be right. As a result, the other person could no longer be labelled the “bad guy”. The real villains in our cases were our egos. And that was something we were going to have to look at.

I still feel that my Italian wasn’t the right stallion for me. But I now understand that perceptions are extremely unreliable. We are all coming from different places and experiences… so everything, everything, is tainted with that. For example, I thought the Italian was harsh and inconsiderate, whereas he may have felt perfectly justified in his behaviour. He may have told his friends that I was more trouble than I was worth and that he wasn’t going to change for anybody, especially not an argumentative Irish woman.

Perceptions are totally subjective. The world looks different to you than it does to me. And it looks different to me today than it did yesterday. Everything I look at is compared and contrasted with everything I’ve already seen. I view current relationships through old hurts. Past fears leak into new ventures. Everything is laced with expectation. And my ego assures me that the way I see the world is the only reality there is.

I’m not suggesting that we beat ourselves over the head until we completely banish our egos. We are human beings with egos and emotions. However, simply recognising that we all experience things differently allows for understanding, forgiveness and acceptance. We don’t have to be right. We don’t need to be better. We just are. With this knowledge, we can stop expecting, judging and criticising and start really experiencing and enjoying life.

Depending on how you perceive this famous image, you may see an old lady or a young one. And once you’re aware of this, you can see both.