“The Illusion of Perfection.”
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Each day my reflection changes, likely not in reality but who knows for certain. Human perception is largely biased. The world is open to interpretation and as a result, the way we see things changes from person to person. Two people who witness the same event, hear the same song, or look at the same picture, will never come away from it with the same understanding because reality it seems, is subjective.
I realize now, that there are errors in my programming; perhaps in everyone’s. Errors that alter the way I see the world, how I see others, and how I see myself. There are days I’m smart and days I’m strong, days I’m ugly and days I’m fat. Some that I’m inadequate, some that I’m everything I want to be, some that I’m brave and some that I’m scared. Scared to forget, scared of being forgotten, and some days I reflect as I truly am: somewhere in between.
On days like today, I can’t tell the difference. The mind in the mirror is beautiful but cunning and it knows there is no truth in our reality, only opinion. Whether we are aware of it or not, we’re always seeking approval in one form or another. We look to others for validation; judging our merits and gauging our worth by reaction alone. From a young age we learn that if you behave a certain way, mom & dad will approve, and if you don’t they won’t. This teaches us how to behave in society, but many people never stop searching for this kind of acceptance. They never learn that image and self-worth are not something given to you, but instead something you create for yourself. I was one of those people.
It started young, when I was a boy. Subconsciously comparing myself to my friends, I’d see how they looked, how they acted, what they’d achieved, and I guess at some point I determined I didn’t measure up. That I wasn’t as smart or talented. That I wasn’t as good looking. I fell in to a pattern of inadequate thinking that, in one form or another, still follows me around to this day.
There was a time when going the gym 6 days a week and dieting was the norm for me. My life was an endless pursuit of what, I thought, came naturally everyone else. I wanted so badly to look like they did. To feel worthy and accepted; to accept myself. I was racing my reflection and never once stopped to think where the finish line was; where I’d be happy with how I looked. Happy with who I was. If there was a road that could take you there, I never found it. The whole mindset seems a paradox to me now. How could the pursuit of some superficial esthetic ever lead to a lasting feeling of self-worth?
It’s a fantasy; an illusion of perfection, and it exists only in print. The mind is a weapon if left unchecked and in a society where sex sells and money talks, human beings are always in season; always on the menu. That’s why it always felt like no matter how strong or thin I got, I still wasn’t satisfied. I always wanted more. The finish line always felt like it was just out of reach because in reality, it didn’t exist.
The way you look is just one part of who you are. I think it’s easy for us to forget that. With the emphasis our society puts on appearance, it’s not surprising that little girls and boys grow up feeling like I did. I hope that if I have kids one day, I’ll be able to instill in them a feeling of self-worth and confidence that is uncompromising, unconditional, and distinct from the world outside.
I hope I can teach them to focus on what they love about themselves and about others, not what they don’t. To find validation not through some else but within themselves. Because the mirror doesn’t show you as you are, only as you think you are, and perception is malleable. Happiness is not a finish line, it’s a mindset, and by learning to love yourself and your imperfections, you can find a lasting happiness that will ripple like a wave to all other parts of your life. You have the power to change how you see yourself and it’s never to late to try. Beauty lives in all of us and you can find it if you want to. All you have to do is look.