How are we seen?
How deeply do we realize that what others see in us is a partial reflection of what we see in ourselves? I say “partial” because it’s always amazed me that how we “show up in the world” directly results in another’s impression of us. Yet at the same time, other people can see us in glaringly different ways than how we see ourselves. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that how we are SEEN is relative to perspective… ours and theirs. The question is which views of us are most important?
When the beholder is you
When I wake up to brush my teeth in the morning and look in the mirror, sometime I see a tired, middle-aged mom with bags under her eyes. On other days, I see the sexiest woman alive. Depending on the “eyes” I am looking with, I either appreciate myself or I don’t. Interestingly, when I look at that middle-aged mom and see a woman who stayed up late making “magic happen” for her kids… texting team moms, coordinating activity schedules and planning for an upcoming week that only Wonder Woman could pull off, I can feel empowered and worthy. When I see that hot woman underneath her c-section scar and extra “fluff”, I can feel embarrassed or discouraged.
Yet to BEHOLD myself is to see not just with my physical eyes, but the eyes of my heart. And the eyes of my heart know every effort, class taken, labor pain felt, friendship formed, argument lost, and tear of joy or sorrow I have ever experienced. The eyes of my heart know the challenges and wins I have had my entire life. And when I see from that perspective, I feel love and appreciation for myself and my journey, regardless of what the eyes in my head might see in my mirror that moment.
When the beholder is another
My younger self didn’t care about what others thought. I began my career in athletics, when just showing up as a fit 20 year-old was good enough for others to have a positive impression of me (those were the good ‘ol days!). I put on a good show from stage and my students had fun. I never wore a lick of cosmetics and didn’t own a matching outfit, taking no care of my “looks”. And I was too dumb to doubt how others saw me. My beholders only saw my outside and knew nothing of my heart or mind. Nor did I care if they did.
As I got older, I naturally became more aware of how others might see me. I wanted people to appreciate my heart. I’d regularly allow the influence of others to determine how I saw myself. Sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes it wasn’t. Once I entered the beauty industry, I believed I should never leave home without getting made up and dressed up. I thought that the better I took care of myself on the outside, the more people would connect with my inside. But that wasn’t always the case. I began to believe that the only way to pay my bills was to be on top of my “external impression game” every second (after all, I was in the “image industry” now). And what others thought of me could often become more important than my view of self.
Over time, I realized that every impression is important. We live in a dynamic society. Depending on circumstance, people will either see me or behold me. It may be the lady at the check-out line who sees beyond my outfit or makeup, as my friendly eyes make contact with hers. It may be the stranger at the mall or toll booth who will behold my smile or compliment as I pass by. It may be my waitress or girlfriend who will see my heart vs. just my presence in their space, because of my compassion. If we are lucky, every person we come in contact with won’t just see us with their eyes, but will feel us in their hearts, because of the mark we made on their day. As we share this kind of love, people might learn to behold themselves in a way that will also intrigue and bring light to others.
Behold, Our Influence
Let us not be fooled, we should care about who is seeing us and what is being seen. We should care about our view of self. But most importantly, we should care about how our eyes see others. WE ARE BEHOLDERS. Our light-heartedness and positive energy is an incredible asset to the world we live in, especially at times when life feels overwhelming or environmentally challenging. Our grace and choice to limit negative judgement of others, affects how they look back at us, through whatever lenses they may be wearing. Our eyes may be saddened or excited, but we choose whether our lenses are dark or rose-colored. And their eyes may be fearful or cautious, but how we behold our neighbor is how we will live our influence.
All that is or isn’t beautiful is in the “eye of the beholder”. We are both constantly seeing and being seen by the hearts of ourselves and others. Let us choose to see with hearts of love. Let us do our best to behold and be held by one another. Surely, we will all benefit.