August 11, 2011

Lesser Self vs. Higher Self -- A Diptic Project

The amazing Lindsay, (her photography blog is here, and all photos in this post were taken by her), who is a founding member of the Denton Women's Collective (I can't wait til we have a web site so I can hyperlink it when I blog about our meetings and current projects!), recently photographed me for a project she's been working on.  She wanted to put two photographs of her subjects side by side—photos which depict the subject's "Lesser Self" vs. their "Higher Self." 

Being the camera whore that I am, I volunteered to be part of her project.  She asked me to start thinking before I came over to her loft for the photo session... "Think of your insecurity/proudest accomplishment or a name you were once called/a role you're aspiring to, etc." 

My knee-jerk reaction when I think of "insecurity" is usually my weight or my size, but when I really stopped to think about this, I's not what really bothers me.  People can call me fat or ugly or whatever, and it will, of course, hurt my feelings...but the fact of the matter is, I don't for one second believe that I am ugly. I don't think that I'm fat (anymore), either.  I still have goals, sure...I want to lose some more weight and be able to run a 10k some day, but I don't think I'm "fat."  So, what is something someone has called me or said to me that truly felt like a punch in the stomach?

I didn't want to admit this...which is why I ended up using it for the project...

In recent months, I was told by a small handful of friends/theatre colleagues that I was one or more of the following things:

  • Mean
  • Hurtful
  • Negative
...and then the knockout punch that sent me into a tailspin:
  • Judgmental

I mean, let's face it.  We're all a little bit judgmental.  Theatre people are, I daresay, the worst about it.  Mostly because we're also some of the most insecure people on the planet, but that's another post for another day and time. 

But...the person who called me this said it in a long line of attacks on my character and, based on the numerous discussions this person and I had had about my faith and his questions of faith, I knew that it was more than just talking about a soprano I didn't like or someone who had no business playing an ingenue at that age. 

I felt like it was an attack on an area where I feel the most afraid and the most vulnerable (and often, where I feel I fail the most consistently) -- my faith and my relationship with God.

I've said before how afraid I am of alienating people or becoming unrelatable (that's a word, right?) or coming across as being "better than" anyone because of my faith, and this person knew that, and so I felt like he chose that word as the killer blow very carefully and purposefully.  I remember that day so painfully clearly because I sat in my friend Jo's car and just ugly cried like a toddler (you know, the hiccuping, can't breathe kind of crying that's SO attractive) because I felt like I'd failed. As a friend and as a Christian. 

It broke my heart.

Since then, I've come to terms with the fact that, yes, I can and WILL make better judgment calls and think more clearly about the ramifications of things I post/say/write...we all can, right?  But a lot of what it comes down to is this:

I can control the motivations behind what I say and do, but I cannot control everyone's reactions.

All I can do is continue to try my own personal best every day to be the best Mandy I can be.  I will still be snarky and catty at times, which may come across as judgmental...I will mess up, but that does not make me a failure or a terrible person...and I will try my very best to be loving and kind and positive.  That's the "higher self" I will aspire to be.

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