Thursday, April 23, 2009

To See Ourselves As Others See Us

Girl at Mirror
Norman Rockwell

I have always loved this little painting by Norman Rockwell. I can identify with this young girl. When I was about ten years old, my mother hung a full length mirror in the hallway outside my bedroom. She placed it there to give the illusion of more space in the hallway, but for the first time, I started to notice my own reflection. I remember standing in front of the full length mirror looking at myself and thinking, "So, that's what I look like." I gazed at my reflection for a long time, thinking how plain I looked. I had fair skin, fair hair, freckles across my nose, and completely nondescript features. Like the little girl in this painting, I compared myself to some of the beautiful, glamorous movie stars at the time, and I knew I was not one of them. I was neither pleased nor disappointed -- I just accepted the face I saw staring back at me. Every time I walked past the mirror, I would sneak a glance at it to see if there was anything interesting reflected back at me, but to no avail.

Recently I have noticed a similar theme in several blogs I have been reading. The theme is to describe ourselves in 13 words. I love that idea. We can describe ourselves physically, spiritually, or in any way we choose, using a combination -- all the traits we see in ourselves. I think sometimes we see ourselves very differently from how other people see us -- both positively and negatively.

Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursel's as ithers see us!
... Robert Burns

I am going to let you go first. You can take your time and think about it for a while, or you can do it quickly, like a word association.

How about it? How do you see yourself -- in 13 words?

Addendum: Okay, here is my list -- as I see me.
1. Impatient.
2. Strong-willed.
3. Affectionate.
4. Organized.
5. Laughs easily.
6. Not skinny.
7. Doesn't suffer fools gladly.
8. Not "sweet".
9. Artistic.
10. Curious.
11. Wary.
12. Obsessive-compulsive.
13. Creative.


robert said...

My 13 for today would be these: complete, finished, awake, it's nearly twenty to five in the morning, responsable.

Jo said...

Mo'ikeha, *heh* I have a feeling you have a little one who is keeping you awake. :-)

white crow said...

i see a fine boy with bright future, confident, confused, it's okay...

Jo said...

White Crow, that's very good! Thank you. :-)

Patsy said...

Jo, you go first, and then I will.

It is easier to say what we don't like about ourselves, for a lot of reasons, the main one of which is that we don't want others to see us as egotistical and quite wrong about ourselves. The other is that people in general need assurance in one or another area and in general aren't positive about what others say are their fine qualities.

Mostly, I would say, in regular terms: People feel that if they talk bad about themselves, people will come to their rescue with affirmations, and that if they speak well of themselves, they will be cut down with very sharp knives.

If you were to ask us to name 13 things we have about ourselves, you'd get their answers in a snap.

Try “good things” and U might wait a long time.

~~ lorna

One word to define myself would be CURIOUS

~LORNA from Southern California the land of the lotus eaters

Patsy said...

Also, we have a lot of identities.

How we perceive ourselves.
How we think others perceive us.
How we try to be perceived.

I would say about this: Try not to feel too guilty about it all. Life is so short.

~~Lorna from Southern California

Patsy said...

Jo, in my first Comment to you I made a typo. That should have read, “If you were to ask us to name 13 things we HATE about ourselves.”

(Not “have.”)

Lorna from that place.

Jo said...

Lorna, you're so right. That is why I think people should feel comfortable describing themselves both positively and negatively. We are all a combination of both -- even Mother Teresa. :-) I often look at the people I work with, or people I know, and I think, "Gee, I wish I could be more like her..." or "Gee, I wish I could be more like him..." But then, there may be people who think the same of me. But I think we all have a self-image, and it consists of both positive and negative characteristics. And oddly enough, sometimes we are more embarrassed about our positive characteristics than we are about our negatives ones.

Leslie: said...

Well, I never thought I'd say I was "jealous," but L's ex is in town because her father had bypass surgery today and when he said something like "I should give my ex-wife a call" my stomache sank and I went all cold inside. That's not me - is it???

Mary Ellen said...

Wow..for once I'm speechless. (and that's not part of my 13 words). I've always had a very low opinion of myself and try not to think about what others think of me, it's too scary. Great post, though.

muthu said...

My 13 words would be -

lively, imaginative, lazy, am bored right now, hungry too, gotta go and eat....

shit.... thats 13 words completed. ;P.

and hey jo, i think you have a huge smile and you must have been cute in your teens though your cynical teen self must have been very hard on you..... (girls are always I repeat are always too hard on their own appearances - Quote by muthu)

So i tell you what... you post one of your teen snaps and i will tell you ... how you looked...

and no excuses for not posting your snap....

you started it... remember... ;)

muthu said...

hey, i jus got a even better quote which is too of course by myself -

The fairer sex isn't always fair in judging their own fair looks....

how s tat 4 a quote ... :P

and hey am waiting 4 your snap.... ;)

Patsy said...

Mary Ellen, you wrote: ”Mary Ellen said...

Wow..for once I'm speechless. (and that's not part of my 13 words). I've always had a very low opinion of myself and try not to think about what others think of me, it's too scary. Great post, though.”

You have mentioned something that I have thought about for a long time and I have definite ideas about *JEALOUSY* and *JEALOUS."

In about a day it will be written. I hope you read it since you reminded me of it. Well....... I would have written about it sooner or later.......

Lorna from Southern, never Northern California

Patsy said...

Dear Leslie: My comment above should have been to you, not to Mary Ellen. Sorry. I am going to writ a post on JEALOUSY. I am glad you wrote it.

Lorna from Southern California where it was cool today

Firefly the Travel Guy said...

I will have to think about that one. Why don't you go first and I'll follow.

A human kind of human said...

"There but for the grace of God goes I" - me to a "T".

lovelyprism said...

1. beautiful 2. loving 3. creative 4.appreciative 5. smart 6. stubborn 7. loyal 8. curious 9. immature 10&11. slightly lazy 12&13. incredibly insecure.

the walking man said...

Child of God, Husband, father, poet, scrapper. Beggar, giver, friend, enemy, contentedly malcontent.

Carol E. said...

I did this at my blog. Thanks for the idea.

TallTchr said... get back to the painting, look how elegantly Rockwell tells the story. The doll is set aside, the brush and make-up are at the ready, and the girl has a picture that looks like Jane Russell on her lap. What she doesn't know, and won't know for many, many years, is that she is more beautiful than any film star.

ivan said...


What time does the ocean close?
Does anybody know for sure? Huh? Huh?

me, myself, I said...

Great blog post idea - so many facets to my personality...not easy for me, but I'd say (in no particular order) curious; seeking; not-always-finding; stubborn; authentic; mother; artist; infatigable; daughter; easy-going; loyal; friend; doesn't suffer fools gladly...!
Hope you have a great w/end :)

P.S thanks for your kind word on my blog...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I really like that painting. It's quite magical.

Okay, here's my 13.
1. Child of God, 2. creative, 3. peacekeeper, 4. divergent, 5. untidy, 6. compassionate, 7. emotional, 8. sensual, 9. communicative, 10. introspective, 11. funny, 12. odd and 13. responsible.

Patsy said...

Jo, I just now returned to read Leslie's comment again for the article on Jealousy, and I clicked onto the picture, which brought up the larger picture. That's Jane Russell in the picture.

The Comment is more about irony than about your topic:

I see Jane Russell as a very hard-looking woman. The little girl in the picture has the features that you know will become a lovely young woman someday.... in the way Natalie Portman or Keira Knightly.

The Movie Star magazines presented actresses in those days as goddesses, I believe that we all felt diminished.

Ok, P.S.: If that lovely little girl had been gazing at a picture of Elizabeth Taylor, then her conclusions would have been a mite more accurate. Some women ARE more physically beautiful, and that is why they get to become movie stars.

Ok. now back to the *jealousy* post.

~ Lorna from you know where

Jo said...

Hello, everyone, thanks for your comments. I understand the meaning of the painting, that the little girl is comparing herself to Jane Russell, who was a typical movie star of the day. I understand also that we are meant to see that the little girl is a very beautiful child, who will grow up to be a beautiful woman. In fact, we can see a resemblance to Vivien Leigh in her face. That is the point of my post. We often underestimate ourselves, not only as children, but as adults. The reflection we see in the mirror, both physically and spiritually, is often altered. "To see ourselves as others see us..."

Paula Slade said...

Interesting commentary on the picture as well as the yin and yang of personality. As human beings we are never static. We change and grow, sometimes even minute-by-minute.

sush said...

I know just what you mean about the mirror! I've always wondered if what I see in the mirror is what others see when they look at me. And do others perceive themselves the same way I do? We'll probably never know! THis is my first time on your blog, and I likes :)

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