I recently wrote a post about contrast and how we need it to define things, i.e. we can’t name ‘cold’ if we don’t have ‘hot’ to compare it to. But, now I’m wondering what to do if the contrasting and defining object is a moving target.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know how big I am, or how small for that matter. Literally. I’m shocked by the mirror and the scale. I’m shocked when things are too big and when they’re too small. I’m shocked when I see pictures of myself and I come up to everyone’s chest. I’m shocked when I see my reflection and I seem larger than I expected.
As a result, I don’t trust any of it and I go about my days having no idea what I look like or how my body actually fits into space.
And, really, why should I? This is a case where the contrasting target is moving. AND, this is a case where the physical is heavily influenced by the emotional and intellectual self. For reasons feminine, cultural and uniquely circumstantial, my size and my perception keep changing.
- In high school, I was popular, successful and an athlete. I was larger than life, but my body felt small.
- In college, I was invisible, drowning with an eating disorder and unhappy. I was terribly insignificant, but my body felt huge.
- As I entered adulthood, I was told to be independent and strong, but society and its magazines were reminding me not to get too big. I was confused and yo-yoing, my body didn’t know which way was up.
- As I became a mother, I urged my body to grow in order to support my babies as they came to be and as they continue to need my protection, time and attention in this world. I am expanding rapidly, my body feels like it isn’t my own and its borders are too far away to see.
- As a wife, I need to pull those edges back in to ‘me’ so that I can feel my woman-ness. My body feels conflicted and exhausted and totally bent out of shape.
- As a writer, speaker and blogger in the context of this blog and a few others and in my immediate community, I receive insanely wonderful connections and feedback. My brain and heart feel big.
- As a writer, speaker and blogger in the context of the world and social media, I’m just tiny. Little fish, big sea.
When I look at all of this, I see that the common thread here is relativity. It’s similar to the fact that I still feel 17, but my birth certificate says I’m 36. I mean, really? Is that true? What’s true?
I’m not sure there’s a way to escape it. But, I’m certain I can’t let it color my forward motion. If we sat around all day and thought about the 300 million people on Facebook, we would never join or think it could be a successful social media tool – and we’d miss out on connecting and sharing with old and new friends. If we thought about the millions of other writers that are out there – either getting published or struggling with rejection letters – we would never type another word.
Why do we look to the outside to define our size or simply who we are? Why would we look outside when outside is constantly changing and insecure? Huh. Maybe that’s why we’re so insecure.
Hard to pin your edges on something that moves, expands, shrinks and bends, isn’t it? Maybe it’s the inside – that still thinks it’s 17 and perfectly sizable that needs to be the touchpoint. That way, at least, it’s always up to us, the magnitude of the space we take up in the world.
Image credit: Steph & Adam