I try not to care what other people think, but that’s probably not totally possible for anyone. Other people are a big part of how we see ourselves. They’re like the world’s most unflattering mirror.
Sometimes it makes me feel better to press the tips of my fingers up against my brow bone. I’ll trace them from the ridge of my nose and drag them outwards with gentle pressure. I create circles that spiral out from one another around my eyes. What starts as therapeutic becomes uncomfortably graphic with the awareness that my eyes are filling two holes in my skull. My eyes are just another piece of my body, but also, somehow, we accept them as a physical manifestation of a piece of our spirit. I’m not sure why this comforts me, but I think it’s a sort of awareness that I am made of flesh and bones. A reconsideration of the human experience. An estuary of what I am and what I feel.
It’s bazar even now to put words to questioning the reality of my own existence. Who am I in my own world? Who am I in your world?
Last week I painted my nails before meeting a friend for dinner. I didn’t have nail polish remover or much time, so I painted gold metallic polish over the spots of matte red remaining from last month. Today, the gold is mostly chipped, but it reserved parts of the red beneath it. Maybe I will pass you on the street today. You, likely a stranger to me, don’t know any of this. If I’m just someone to you, and you happen to notice my fingernails, you might just see two colors of nail polish chipped into tiny island continents on the sea of each fingernail. You might think it sloppy and strange. Looking at my fingernails I realize while bazar without context, I understand why they look exactly how they do right now.
Of course, my nail polish doesn’t really matter when you zoom out. Maybe if you zoom out far enough those bigger things- things that people notice about you but don’t really understand- won’t matter either. Why would I define myself through other people when they haven’t lived my experience?
At the end of it all, it becomes something very simple.
First, my value is not defined by the feelings and opinions of other people. It is something I was born with and only I can understand. And second, your value is something you were born with, and only you can truly understand. So I will do my best to step into your shoes and I hope you’ll give my size 5s a try as well (comically small, I know). But ironically, I think accepting all of this- that we are all living in our bodies in a difficult world- can somehow bring us all a little closer to true empathy.