I was talking online via g-chat with a friend at work on Friday. I know, I know - for shame! (But, in all fairness, it's the only chance I get to stay in touch with some folks, and obviously if my client's boss is asking me to assist him in addition to my client, I must be getting some of my work done...)
Somehow, in the conversation, we got onto the fact that I generally hate myself in pictures. Close to 87% of the time (rough estimate), I'm blinking in the picture (Thanks Mom!). In the few that I'm not blinking in, 68% involve me making a horribly odd face or is just an unflattering pose. Thus, there are few pictures that I like myself in.
Given that I also believe that pictures are as close as you can come to seeing yourself through the eyes of others, I've always thought of myself as average, looks-wise. Usually cute in that average girl-next-door way. Never really thought of myself as ugly, but not really beautiful either. Occasionally, with the right light, the right outfit, and some magic, I look pretty in pictures.
As I've gotten older, become more comfortable in my skin and with myself, I seem to hear people use the word "beautiful" to describe me more often. Other than when a very select few people call me beautiful, I tend to rankle and not believe them. Somewhere along the line, I started believing you could either be smart or you could be beautiful, but that the two were mutually exclusive.
Given that I'm smart (I mean, not to brag too much or anything, but I did get all A's in grad school...), I've just assumed beautiful was not part of the equation for me. So unless certain people (those who love me dearly) say I'm beautiful, I tend to not believe it when I'm called "beautiful". As such, I have a hard time accepting compliments on my looks.
In our conversation, without knowing all that I've just explained, my friend scolded me. He said, "You're a looker and you don't even know it. You're beautiful, but you don't believe it. You need to start accepting that, and start being able to graciously accept compliments on your looks."
After giving me a minute or two to mull that over, he continued, "You have this spark that's just incredible. When it gets captured in a picture, your picture just becomes absolutely captivating."
That's a hell of an awesome compliment.
Challenge one, to accept that compliment graciously. I think I did quite well.
Challenge two, to start accepting compliments on my looks graciously and without suspicion. (And no, I'm not going to start fishing for compliments to practice challenge two.)
Challenge three, to start believing that being smart and being beautiful are not mutually exclusive (without blowing my ego out of proportion either).