Looking At Ourselves

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From about Thanksgiving until the first few weeks of January is a time when I often reflect on my life. My birthday is at the end of November, so it always makes me reflect on another year and my life as whole up until now, and December and January are the end and beginning of the year, so I tend to look back on the past year and look toward the year to come. But it also goes beyond looking at myself as an individual, but how I fit into society at large.

As members of the LGBT community, so many of us for so long have been taught to be ashamed of who we are because we do not fit the predominant image and standard profile of acceptable persons. We have been taught to look at ourselves through lenses that are not able to see clearly our true beauty and essence as citizens in society, as people of God and as children of the greater universe. When we look at ourselves we must try as best we can to see everything that’s there, but this is sometimes hard to do without a real desire to take a hard look and to see what’s really there; to view ourselves clearly, squarely and freely. The beauty and goodness of what we see sometimes gives way to the not so beautiful things that we see, say and do and we must cast aside all fear in taking that honest look if we are to grow into a greater awareness of who we really are and what we can ultimately become as genuine persons of promise and value.

So each day that we rise to meet the morning, we must look at ourselves in the mirror and proceed to make the necessary physical makeovers that will present us “flawless” to the outside world. Sometimes we undervalue what we see because of what we have been taught to look for and how we have been taught to look at it. But the truth is we must come to terms with the person that we see in the mirror each morning. We must acknowledge what we see through our own eyes. We may not always like what we see looking back at us, and sometimes we can change it, sometimes we can’t. The fact is, we should change what we can, and accept that which we cannot change. We can’t always be perfect.

It doesn’t help much when our friends point out what we did wrong. If we’re so scared of hearing from ourselves that we made a mistake, just imagine how much we hate hearing it from someone else. And our friends know this: the answer to “Does this outfit make me look fat?” is not supposed to be “Yes.” We may joke about our friends’ foibles behind their back, but we rarely do so to their face. Even at work, a lot of effort goes into making sure employees are insulated from their superior’s most negative assessments. This is what we’re taught: make five compliments for every criticism, sandwich negative feedback with positive feedback on each side, the most important thing is to keep up someone’s self-esteem. We also have to work on our own self-esteem.

In moments of great emotional stress, we revert to our worst habits: we dig in and fight harder. The real trick is not to get better at fighting—it’s to get better at stopping ourselves: at taking a deep breath, calming down, and letting our better natures take over from our worst instincts. Even if seeing ourselves objectively is the best option, all our natural instincts all point the other direction. Not only do we try hard to avoid bad news about ourselves, we tend to exaggerate the good news.

Looking at ourselves objectively isn’t easy. But it’s essential if we ever want to get better. And if we don’t do it, we leave ourselves open to con artists and ethical compromisers who prey on our desire to believe we’re perfect.

I have a confession. I really didn’t know what to write about today, but I loved the picture at the top of this post. Doesn’t he have the cutest ass? So, I came up with a post to fit the picture. I do think it’s a decent post, and I hope you do as well.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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