Credit for this post clearly goes to my blogger friend Mel, whose post here made me comment, and the more I was thinking about the subject, the more I wanted to write about it.
Actually, this is not my first post brushing the topic of self-perception and how it so often widely differs from how others perceive us; two years ago, I wrote this.
As I said in my comment on Mel's post, I know what she means and often find the woman who looks back at me in the mirror has a different face on different days of the week and at different times of the day.
Sometimes, as mentioned in my comment, Mirror-Woman gets me by surprise - quite nastily, too, like on that day when I was waiting for the train home after a particularly exhausting day at the office some years ago.
When the train pulled in, I stood aside on the platform to let passengers get off, and incidentally caught my own reflection in the glass panel of the door. What I saw was an old woman, her face lined with tiredness, the corners of her mouth turned down and her eyes weary. It was NOT a pretty sight, and I was quite shocked.
I am 43 now and certainly entitled to a wrinkle or two, but there and then I looked a lot older - to be honest, I looked as old and knackered as I felt at that moment.
Since then, a lot has happened; two years ago, the sudden death of my husband meant not only a big change in my life, but also a total shift in perspective - among other things, I have elminated unhealthy stress from my life, and feel (and hopefully look!) a lot better for it.
Still, there are times when, for instance, I am getting ready for an evening out, even putting some make-up on (which is a rare occurrance for me, and there is nothing on my skin, obviously no powder or cream, just a dab of lipstick and some mascara on my eyelashes), and feel pretty enough to attempt taking a new self-portrait to use as my profile picture on a social platform (not FaceBook, I am not there and will never be).
So I go about taking the picture with the help of my camera's self-timer, but when I see the result, I think no, that's not the face I should have - I feel not as ugly as this.
Then, a few days later, I take another picture, for no special reason, simply because I feel like it, with no make-up on, dressed in my most comfy house clothes, and find it does not make a difference whether I make an effort or not, this one is not uglier than the first one.
My face is probably that part of myself I will never feel really, really good about, as opposed to most of the rest of me, which I quite like showing off (you'll see what I mean once I get my "Autumn Wardrobe" post up). And there is, I guess, the biggest difference in self-perception and how others see me: I do not think I am downright ugly, but I think my face is the part of me least worth looking at. My self-esteem is by no means low (quite the contrary, which some people find rather off-putting), but I have no idea of what is more realistic - how I perceive myself, or how others see me? And what is the secret in making others see me the way I think I am?