Who are we?

I'm always amazed at and by young people. I really like this image by Kristy Anne (her Web page hasn't been updated in over a year, such is youth). Anyway, I like the idea of looking at ourselves through the lens of a camera. Most photographers, myself included, hate being photographed, and I know many nature and landscape photographers don't do portrait photography and rarely self-portraits, usually only for books or their Website.

When I was married, see Contact Web page photo, Linda routinely pushed me into taking photos of people, and especially into portraits of her and self-portraits. During my recent retirement months I began reviewing all my slides, going back to my first ones taken in 1969. In all those slides I think there are maybe a dozen or so of me, and about two dozen of LInda. Looking back, that wasn't very smart, but then it was just who I was.

What I find interesting is that we see ourselves in many views. The view we see ourselves, the view we see ourselves in the world, the view we project to the world, the view we would like to be and the view we often criticize as ourselves, the always woulda, coulda, shoulda's. And in all those views, we still don't see reality, just what we want to see. We don't turn the camera around to see ourselves. The irony is that none of the views of ourselves match, let alone match reality.

And we forget the view others see as ourselves and ourselves in the world, the world's mirror of ourselves. I discovered this when our agency conducted a workshop on TQM and we participated in a test to assess what we project to others and how others see us. I was surprised what I took for mental self-defense in an organization where managers routinely verbally attacked and demeaned employees, other employees took it as being agressive and assertive.

What does it mean? I don't know, except we're not who we think we are. I often tell myself with my exercise program, I'm not as good as I want to be but I'm not as bad as I think I am. Sometimes I look in the mirror in horror, saying, "My God I'm getting old.", and other times I say, "Well, such is life."

In the end, it's likely if you say you're good, you're likely overstating it, and if you're saying you're bad, you're likely understating it. And never assume what you're projecting is what's being received.

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