I see it now
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how we see ourselves ("Who Do I See?" Jan. 18 2013), about how our reflection in the mirror is what we think of when we think of ourselves. I guess these days the way we look in our selfies is how we see ourselves. It's why you'll notice, as soon as the selfie is snapped, everyone crowds around the phone to see how they turned out in the picture. One person will say, "No, delete it, that's terrible" when all they are looking at is themselves, not even noticing how the other people in the photo look.
That's when I realized something. It's not universal, or even that common, perhaps, but for some of us with low self-esteem the worst pictures we've ever seen of ourselves is how everyone sees us on a day-to-day basis. If we ever look okay, it's fleeting and nobody remembers it. It's always that worst angle, that most unflattering of light, all the shadows in all the wrong places, that people see and remember. As I walk down the street I'm thinking that everyone who looks at me sees those photos Ricky Gervais took of himself in the bathtub a couple of years ago. And I also, for some reason, think that, if I can see them, they see nothing but me and observe every movement, every nuance in my presence, and they're judging every bit of it.
Then I have to scold myself for thinking that I'm significant enough that people even notice me, let alone think about me. Then, if I do make eye contact with a stranger, and they do anything but the polite, innocuous smile and keep moving, then I see it as fear and repulsion at this creepy freak with no proper chin.
I will admit that I've never given too much consequence to my appearance. Even if, now in my adulthood, I wanted to, I have the excuse that I live with three women and one bathroom. What chance do I have to get any grooming time? But honestly I doubt that has much to do with it. The ways in which I'm critical of myself are probably not the things other people notice about me.