Monday, June 8, 2015

Self Image

You know, this thing of self-image is a lot more than just the face you see in the mirror. (You know? Surprising!) Even when it comes to the face alone, you can, in the mirror, see a face that a gorilla would embrace as a long-lost relative, and think that Bollywood missed out on a great option when you chose not to try and become a romantic hero. (That's me? Not at all! George Clooney envies me my looks). You can look at a face that Katrina Kaif wants to possess in her next birth and wish that you were not so ugly. The image you carry of even your physical self - you know the "I am ugly" or "I am God's gift to mankind" - may really vary widely from what's there for the world to see.

If that can happen with faces, what can be said of other things that are much less visible? You know, in the days when I was at school, other kids used to sort of cold-shoulder me and I found myself thinking, "What is so unlikable about me?" Really! Even such a charmer like me could create such a wrong self-image for himself. ("Charmer? You?" you sneer? Who asked you to butt in, anyway?) Once you KNOW you are a charmer, you know the right way to think. It took a while for me, though, to realize that the right thing to ask myself was, "Why are these poor kids so nervous about making friends with me? I am not all that picky!"

The teens are about the worst age for messing up with your self-image. Yeah, I know, you develop this rather cool attitude of laughing AT other people, and calling that a sense of humor, but you develop a very distorted view of your own self. I mean, Casanova could have taken my correspondence course on how to attract women (and without even the aid of deodorants, which were conspicuous by their absence in my teens) but I used to feel that I was repellent merely because they had this quaint way of expressing their attraction by wrinkling their noses and making retching noises when in my vicinity. "I am not good enough for them", I used to think. Later, when I recovered the right way of viewing myself for the woman-magnet that I was, I realized that the truth was that the poor women avoided me because they were afraid that THEY were not good enough for me!

In short, over a period of time, I understood that it was my own self-image that was making me think, "What is wrong with ME?' whenever the rest of the world acted in any manner that seemed contemptuous of me. If I had a strong enough self-image, I would know that the right question to ask would be "What is wrong with THEM?"

There are pitfalls to even that, though. Take the man who shoots up a place or places a bomb that kills men, women and children indiscriminately. Does he view himself as "I am a callous killer?" Not at all. His view of himself is, probably, that of "I am doing God's work on Earth, eliminating the impious and the unworthy" and, obviously, he expects angels to roll out the red carpet and God Himself to award him the 'Distinguished Service Cross' or whatever, and seat him where he can hear the harp concert to its best advantage. One would almost think that the human race still believes in a God, who ought to be propitiated by the blood of human sacrifice, but have abandoned the puerile idea that it is necessary to conduct the sacrifice in any specific manner.

The thing about a self-image is that, if you allow others to draw it for you totally, you end up staring at a gargoyle. If you draw it all by yourself, you could end up looking on yourself as either a monster or a goddess. The trick is to sketch it in for yourself but allow the world to color this bit and add a line there and erase a curve here. Balance, that is the word, I am looking for - it is balance that will make for a self-image that keeps you sane AND keeps you reasonably happy as well.

How sad, then, that I cannot even balance myself when I am lying flat on my back!

26 comments:

  1. hahaha that was a fun read Suresh!

    People don't find me friendly enough (in real life) to initiate a conversation with.

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    1. Thanks, Debs! Actually, people are not friendly enough to initiate conversations :P

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  2. hahaha...that augers well with me....THEY are indeed to be conveniently blamed for everything!

    But jokes apart...The idea of a balance seems good...you cannot live with an image someone else has conjured for you, neither can you bask in a self-conjured narcissistic image...a balance would be ideal...I like the idea of 'a line here, some colour there..' But make sure THEY use erasable colours...I mean, just in case you want to redo it again!

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    1. The pith of the post! And, yes, the colors do need to be erasable :)

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  3. I am totally in tandem with your last para,it encapsulates the issue perfectly.
    But we are not so wise in our teens-no?

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    1. For a sizable proportion of us, the wisdom never arrives - even in our dotage :)

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  4. Now, this was a fun read but the message you want to convey is a thought provoking one for me atleast. And like in your case, men presume they are not good enough for me ;-) :P

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    1. I rather doubt that you have any need even think of who is not good enough for whom, Akanksha :) Great to hear the 'thought-provoking' part - that is what I normally strive to do :)

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  5. Balance alas is so difficult to strike. The point you made is very pertinent.

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  6. If only I had had that wisdom. I think it was (or is it were?) those teen years that kind of pushed an idea of me into me, when I might not have been that at all. Though, I am not that much affected by self-image now. I quite accept the way I am. (Mostly) :D

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    1. You never are free of a self-image, Vinay! You only develop one that you are comfortable with.

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  7. ...but of course you ARE a charmer:) Even men fall victim to your charm leave alone women;)
    And yes, Casanova does need tutorials from you if he wants to keep abreast with times:);)

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    1. Hahaha! I better start on devising my tutorials then :)

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  8. Reminded me of a TV-ad of a deo (I guess!) in which the hero feels he is "upar waale ki deyn!"
    Our self-image better be good.

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    1. Good, yes, but not so good that it does not admit the possibility of any improvement :)

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  9. Loved it Suresh ! I have this painful worry if people don't talk to me as I hope.:-) Nowadays I try to distract myself from the bully moms around. The new age parents are so aggressive! Taking it easy seems almost a crime !

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    1. Now you know - something is wrong with THEM :)

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  10. I second Amit's comment :) It is the charming way in which you share these nuggets of wisdom that makes your readers come back to your blog again and again. So keep spreading the charm!

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    1. Thanks Beloo! Wonderful to hear that I keep readers hooked.

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  11. You quite nailed the concept of self-image in the last paragraph, Suresh. I'd say that's the best description of a balanced view of life, even. A wonderful read.

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  12. What a wonderful post !Suresh .Enjoyed reading it .
    If people had the knowledge of about the self then their life would be worth living for .But it is not.Reading your post I am remember a line from Kabir 's Dohe "Yeh humara jeevan kagj(paper) ki pudina ke saman hai" .

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