looking at who you are from without and from within

Very often as a writer I have to see the characters as they see themselves and as others see them. The two perspectives rarely coincide with one another. In the book I am writing now the main character, Rain Hollister, falls victim to her Looking Glass Self. How she sees herself is how she perceives society sees her through interactions so she reshapes her life to withdraw from as many social interactions as possible, effectively freezing any future growth or change. That is until the antagonist forces his way into her life turning everything she knows and has come to rely on for stability upside down.

Swapping views nearly sentence to sentence with her brought about thoughts of making a more conscious effort to see myself as others see me, both literally and figuratively, and would it shape who I am in that moment. The answer was an unequivocal “yes”.

In the midst of an angry rage, I found the means to not only take a step back but step away far enough to see me as others would or could in that instant. It wasn’t pretty and I abruptly changed. Similar to “reality” shows, (an oxymoron in and of itself – the introduction of a camera in front of you alters the environment and changes the way humans react to any type of stimuli, but I digress…) if each and every one of us had a mirror that hung a few feet in front of us and followed us around, would it change who we are and how we face the world? Would it make our actions and reactions more thoughtful and less frenetic? With zero scientific background or investigation whatsoever I can only hypothesize, but my gut feeling is yes, we would.

Maybe we wouldn’t let so many of life’s moments be so consuming before we find them retrospectively inconsequential. Maybe seeing what role we portrayed in a tense situation as it unfolds would shape us into a more patient responder. Maybe, just maybe, a mirror that wasn’t a filtered, thirtieth try selfie, would gradually teach us to be who we want to be, because we are not who we think we are.

Maybe.

-P

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