All my life, I've wanted to see who I was. I grew up in a funhouse where the mirrors didn't reflect me, but my mother. I always looked to catch sight of myself unawares--from the outside, as I really was--in snapshots, in every reflective window and mirror I walked past.
I had little sense of how others saw me, or that they saw me at all.
Last night, out for New Year's Eve, a guy I've known casually over a dozen years, George, told me he'd thought for years that I was supremely self-confident, and he'd disliked me for it.
I was shocked.
Not that he hadn't liked me, which I'd known, but that I'd ever come across as confident.
That was surely projection on his part, from his own self-doubts; but I think, too, that I must have been good at posturing, because I sure didn't feel confident.
He said he loves me now he recognizes I have the same human insecurities he has.
Funny, because I'm way more confident now. I think he may have misidentified the qualities he was reacting to. When I was more insecure, I came on stronger, harder, shields up in self-protection.
I'm softer now, more relaxed, because I'm not afraid. I know who I am.
The 365 self-portrait project has shown me something interesting too: I know what I look like. I'm no longer trying to catch my reflection in store windows.
I'm fine with what I look like too, which I never was before.
I've gained weight at mid-life, and while I don't want to give myself diabetes and have to get my foot cut off, I don't fret much about it much otherwise.
I watch myself on film and I'm not worrying about my fat tummy, I'm wondering about how I could be a better director and about stuff like how to clear the background noise the microphone picks up. (I know--I need a mike baffle.)
I am hugely grateful for this mid-life liberation.
I wish I could have been more comfortable with myself when I was younger. But like the other limitations and pains of life, my years of self-doubt make me more compassionate.
I think that's why my pal has come to love me--not for my insecurities but for my comfort with myself. It translates into comfort with other people too.
It was never a surfeit of ego that made me stare at photos of myself. It was the opposite, an undernourished ego that felt invisible, as if I were a stranger to myself.
Now my ego is secure (mostly), I don't need to keep an eye out for myself so much anymore.
I'm not looking in my princess mirror here asking, "Who's the fairest?" I'm trying to angle the camera to show you the glow-in-the-dark Star Trek figures on the wall behind me.