Have you ever watched a video of yourself and realized you have some mannerism you never knew about, like some stupid look on your face whenever you're listening to people or an annoying vocal pattern or something? And then you're like, "Oh my gosh...do I do that? All the time?" And no one else really cares but you're about ready to go put your head in a paper bag and crawl under your back porch and never come out to spare humanity the blight of whatever tiny "defect" you just found out about. Or maybe a friend told you, "Do you know that you do (such and such a thing) a lot?" but you were completely clueless and now you're worried that's all people notice when they see you. Or you are washing your hands in the bathroom after a meal and you're like, "SHOOT HOW LONG HAS THAT SPINACH BEEN COVERING MY ENTIRE FRONT TOOTH. WHO SAW THIS AND HOW LONG DID THEY LAUGH AFTER I LEFT."
I'm not typically a self-conscious person, but the last couple days I've found myself feeling quite nit-picky with myself, noticing little things that I do when I talk or how stuff tends to get stuck in my not-quite-straight teeth, etc. and feeling very anxious about it. I started to imagine how people must see me and wonder if people judge me or if I've been barred from opportunities because of these minor quirks. Maybe it makes me annoying to listen to when I talk. Maybe I look really stupid.
I started to make action plans to try and rectify the problems: I would make a more conscious effort to clean my teeth after meals. After all, what if I one day went on a DATE and got stuff STUCK IN MY TEETH?? I would practice keeping my mouth closed when I wasn't talking so it wouldn't just hang open. Blah blah blah...It was exhausting just obsessing about it for the ten minutes before I gave up and decided it didn't matter that much. I can't imagine how awful it must be to have a disorder where you obsess about these things all the time. It saps the happiness and life out of you.
I'm sure I'll see some video of myself in a year or two and start freaking out again about some aspect of myself and if I ever get asked on a date I probably will end up with broccoli in my teeth. But I like to think that a date would be far more distracted by my witty banter, sagely wisdom, and intimate knowledge of the nuances of early American teaware designs than by a stupid green speck in my mouth. I guess I realized that it's better to have a dumb haircut or wonky eyebrow than an abusive personality, selfish heart, or unkind spirit. Even if there are some things about my outward appearance that don't live up to the typical beauty standards or even that are ugly to others, I would rather be less attractive than be someone who hurts others, ruins lives, kills, or is filled with anger and hate.
I know some people's insecurity can't be cured just by simple words like that, but if you're like me and occasionally start nit-picking yourself and feeling lousy, I hope this gives a bit of perspective, as it did for me.
Stay strong, friends. You're all beautiful.