Earlier this week , while I was burying myself in the sugary haze of a marzipan cake (better than booze, I’m arguing), I literally broke the knife while attempting to carve through the crust of this thing. As in – I actually broke the blade away from the handle completely. SNAP. CRACK. My flair for drama instantly evoked me photographing the incident and posting it to my Instagram story with the tagline ‘It’s just one of them days…’
You know. A Murphy’s law day. With things going awry. Breaking. Messing up. Now, I’ll admit that I am not a pro-photographer and my Insta-update frequency is a whopping once a month (if that) because frankly: who does anything interesting during lockdown? So I had no big expectations for this pic on my feed whatsoever.
Turns out though – posting that picture held a lifelesson.
Throughout the day-of-posting I had a couple of different people slide into my DM’s (I’m only recently finding out that’s a thing now that virtual blogging-strangers every so often message me there out of the blue…which is both awesome and kind of unnerving).
And almost every. Single. One. Of them commented NOT on the broken pieces of the knife next to the cake-that-murdered it. But on the cake, and the me eating that whole thing solo. I received kudo’s on my selfcare levels. Respect for my nomnomnom skills. Amazement at my dinner selection. Things like that.
Boggled the fuck out of me.
When I looked at that picture I saw two halves of a knife clear as day. Giggling at the thought of a knife losing to cake. The fact that people were seeing something else entirely? Mind. Blown.
The concept of focus and being aware of what other people see when they look at things, pictures…or you – is ever so important. It determines our confidence. Our awareness. And our trust in our place in the world. The spotlight effect often causes us to hone in on areas that we think people will focus their gaze on. Wrongly so. Because what we tend to forget, in our self-absorbed universe where all the planets revolve around ourselves – is that this works the same for others.
We expect to be seen, noticed and negatively judged in a way harsher way than is ever actually the case. Yet people, the center of their own universes, hardly glance over the things that we think are standing out like a painful sore. And when it comes to pictures of cake with a broken knife, no one really looks at the cutlery.
Last weekend I had a friend over. And while on the topic of dating I let slip ‘Man. These days I’m actually glad I don’t have to worry about dating with my face like this.’
I was talking about my I-just-hit-puberty looking face, with a bunch of blemishes (bad diet habits like marzipan cake have that effect) and a busted lip from chewing it too much from work-induced stress and boredom. These days I’m very far from loving the way I look, and in that unhappiness assume that all people see when they look me over is exactly those areas that shred my confidence. Ugliness.
Yet my friend turned around with a quizzical look on her face.
‘Why? What’s up with your face?’
She, at that point, had already arrived the night before, hung out with me all afternoon and spent the night, on her way to walk out the door. At least 12 hours in my vicinity, yet unawares of my face-related insecurity and oblivious to the goings on of my skin. She just hadn’t registered it like that. Or at least, not in such a way that she had judged my face to be peeling off in zombie-esque ways like it sometimes feels to me.
She, as those people on my Insta, did NOT look at me or my pictures the way I do. She did not connect the same sort of detrimental conclusions and negativity to me, like I do myself. When all you figure is that focus will be on the parts of yourself (or around you) that you dislike – you could often not be more wrong. Turns out – everyone else is probably just too busy feeling similarly about parts of themselves…to notice yours.
And though you might only see the worst parts of you in the full assumption that everything those other people see when they look at you is exactly those things you don’t want them to see – you can be sure that they’re probably seeing something else entirely. Even though we’re trained to see the worst in ourselves, most people actively try to see the beauty in others. Even when they themselves can’t.
So while that knife is never going to be put together, it at least helped me pull myself together a bit more all the same. A noble way to die, I’d say.