Today’s Archive post comes to us from 2007–which is utter madness. EIGHT YEARS AGO? But it is still one of my favorites.
I mentioned that while in Houston, I got to loll around at the Hotel Zaza reading the latest Vogue. Penelope Cruz was on the cover, and there was a feature pictorial of her in the MOST sumptuous ballgowns by Balenciaga and Marchesa. Honestly, I would be buried in ANY of them, and I’m not even planning on being buried at all. (The pictorial also featured a bullfighter, and let me just say, animal cruelty charges aside, WOW. That matador gear is alarmingly attractive when it’s half off. Who knew?) But the part that impressed me the most was not La Cruz’s obvious beauty, it was this quote: You cannot live your life looking at yourself from someone else’s point of view. Genius.
And difficult. This is an issue I’ve struggled with a LOT over the last year in particular. People feel very free to offer opinions–sometimes critical ones–and the internet provides a very cozy place for anonymity. There are those who could never do what I do, but who feel free to dismiss it with a scornful word or a wave of the hand. These are people I do not understand, nor do I wish to. I think any job, done with integrity and creativity and thoughtfulness, is worthy of respect. (I suspect that the people who are most dismissive and vicious about other people’s work are deeply dissatisfied with their own, but I could be wrong. Amateur psychology is a thorny place to wander.)
In any event, I believe Penelope is right. We are so busy worrying about how other people see us, that we forget to see ourselves as we really are. After all, anyone else’s perception of us is filtered through the lenses of their experience. What they see is perhaps not what we really ARE. And it’s no use trying to GUESS how other people see us because it’s hopeless at best. We don’t hear the inflection of our own voices, see our own expressions. The most we can hope for is authenticity, an elusive and difficult quality to master. We have to know ourselves before we can show ourselves. And if anyone objects to that, we will remind ourselves that their point of view is simply that: a single point in a very big world.