Please take a look at these photos.
Kinda beautiful, huh? Some might go so far as to call her hot.... well... I said SOME. But there's really no denying that she is, by all standards, at the very least good-looking.
I mean here's a twenty-two year old woman, really very pretty - but you know what she saw when she looked in the mirror?
Yes she did.
Warped? Crazy? Disassociated? Oh yeah, you'd better believe it.
She hated everything about herself. So much so that she thought she was hideously ugly. Not just 'plain' but outright donkey-butt ugly. (no offense to donkeys)
Sad is the best way to describe it.
I have an intimate understanding of how much she hated herself inside and out - so much that it distorted her self-image to insane proportions - because, you must have guessed by now: that girl was me.
Yup. That godawful mirror-crackingly ugly young woman is me at 22. And those pictures above, those were taken in natural light - no trick make-up, no special effects - for my senior yearbook picture. (that's why they have the 'return' message on them - I wouldn't return them). There is no picture of me in my college yearbook.
Because I felt these pictures were so hideous I could not bare the shame of having them in a yearbook. In fact I am shocked I didn't burn them.
Twenty-mumble-mumble years later I stumbled upon these photos while I was cleaning out the hundreds of photographs I've saved over the years. When I first saw them I didn't realize it was me. I recognized the sweater... not the girl. Took a few seconds for it to sink in. Clearly it took over two decades for me to actually see myself as I was - kinda stunning. Imagine if I'd actually put some effort into it!! Knock-out!!
If you've read here before I hope you'll understand that this is not an attempt at bragging. Though compliments are always accepted... whether I believe them or not, I don't mind hearing them. I'm easy that way.
What it is about is how easy it is for us to see reality through a filter of our feelings.
We may be seeing the most gorgeous thing in the world, but our unhappiness makes it appear horrible. We may be so unhappy on the inside that we project that to the outside. Maybe other people see the reality, but we see what is reflected out from our hearts. If we're in pain, it's hard to see a knock-out in the mirror. And if others tell us how great we are, we hear lies. If they tell us we're beautiful, we know they want something from us and are flattering to get it. If they tell us we're smart, it can only be because they are too dim to see the truth or we have simply covered our stupidity well enough to pass for clever.
If you got the type of positive reinforcement I did as a child it really helps. I tell you, there's really nothing that builds your lack of self esteem more than your father telling you you're stupid, clumsy and basically inept; your mother asking why you only got straight "A"s instead of "A+"s, hearing how pretty your cousins are, having your godmother tell you your eyebrows are too bushy and you're fat... when you're all of TEN. (and I see now that back then I really wasn't... but I made sure I made that one come true by high school-so obedient.)
These are just mild examples of how to keep your child from developing any sort of healthy ego and feelings of self-worth. Please, keep it in mind if you are raising kids, because who wants a kid with a huge head, right?
Fighting the sort of ego-crushing I had growing up is ridiculously difficult. But it can be done. Living proof at this keyboard right now.
Not to say I'm in any kind of zen-like I-am-perfect state of mind, but I think I'm a helluva lot more in tune with reality now than I ever was in the past... but there's still soooo much to do.
The title of this blog is "I've got a crush on me!" Not "I'm madly in love with me!" for a reason. But maybe someday... I'm working on it.
p.s. special thanks to Gary for scanning these relics in for me.