Sometimes, seeing an unflatting photograph of yourself can hit you like a punch. We’ve all had this experience, when our comfortable self-image is shattered by a photograph that looks nothing like what we expect, or hope, and when the apparent Truth of a photograph that we can hold and mourn over takes precedence over the perceived reality inside our heads.
Of course the photograph must be right, and we must be wrong; the photo is right there, and everyone can see it! Our self-perception is internal, and truly known only to ourselves.
Except, of course, that photo is not all of you. It is a tiny moment of you in an exclusively visual format. The fact of the matter is that this is not what people see when they look at you — it is a piece of what they see, but they also see your smile, your personality, your constantly-in-motion reality.
Photos are one-dimensional, unmoving and flat, and we are living, trembling, multidimensional flesh. A single photograph can’t hope to capture all of this, nor can it hope to capture the inner light that makes you, you.
I’ve decided I’m going to concentrate on myself. What I want, what I need, what I feel. I need to figure out my own direction in life, my real interests, and what makes me happy. I can’t live off what I think I need, especially if I’m going to look for it from other people. I need a sense of my own self-satisfaction. I need confidence in myself. I like art, I like music, and I like literature. There are no rules, only what I feel. I’m not going to freak out over boys, not worry every second about not having one, nor am I going to read in to everything they say or do. I do not a need a boyfriend to define me. I just need me.
A study from Stanford published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that people consistently underestimate how often other people have negative emotions, while overestimating how often they have positive ones. Although the study had nothing to do with Facebook, it quickly became associated with the coinage “Facebook envy,” because the lead researcher reportedly got the idea from watching his friends’ interactions with the social network. It seems the more you scroll your newsfeed and see and read the amazing things going on in your friends’ lives, the worse you feel about your own life.