Focus – The Spotlight effect

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.
R.I.P. knifey.

21 thoughts on “Focus – The Spotlight effect

  1. at least you didn’t break a tooth eating it which really would have sent you to the moon with your face phobia which is beautiful BTW. maybe you can bring the knife to them and get a free cake.. lol

    Like

  2. SMiLes Part of What
    i Love most about
    An Autotelic
    Flow of Free
    Dance
    With
    No Reasons
    Is The External
    World Dissipates
    And With 14,053
    Public Miles in
    87 Months
    Of Doing
    It i Will
    Make A
    Whole
    Crowd
    Of Walmart
    Unmasked
    Ignorance in
    A Center Midst
    oF iT Disappear
    At Will in
    A Rapture
    Of Freedom
    In SKiLL Now
    Yes Whether
    i Meditatively
    Spiral Dance
    Or Not Yes No
    ‘UNiVeRSE’
    HaiR Don’t
    Give A CR8P
    Of What Does
    Not Yet See in
    Balance
    So
    F
    iN
    Free Be
    Back And
    YeS NoW i’ll
    Show Ya.. In
    A Biofeedback
    Dance i Still DO
    BREaTHE FREE💫

    Nah Ya Don’t Have

    To Make Any

    Money

    To Be Rich

    Enough to

    Make A Walmart

    Crowd Disappear

    In Just

    Another

    Rampage

    Dancing

    Spree Securely

    Enough Loaded

    In A Panhandle

    Barrel Shaped

    State With

    Many

    ‘Florida

    Men and

    Or Women Indeed 😜 HeHe

    Like

  3. And the funny thing is… it can be manipulated too. MAKE people see what you want them to see. That’s what illusionists thrive on… hèhèhè (What I actually mean is, beware you don’t create an ‘ugly’ image of yourself in the minds of others either… That is my pitfall 🤪)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Never Mind me
    In A Silly
    Clown
    Harry
    Potterish
    Shape
    Shifting
    Mood Today
    Proof i Will
    Suck
    All
    The
    Poundage
    In True With
    Empirical Evidence
    Of All The Public
    Dance Miles
    Here
    Any
    Way
    This is
    Also A
    Spotlight Effect
    My FRiEnD i Don’t
    Depend
    On
    Anyone
    Else to
    Create
    An EPiC
    Life For
    Free The
    Pandemic
    Ain’t SLoWiNG
    me
    Down
    A Bit
    At 60 YearS-old
    You’LL Never
    GRoW Old If
    You Just Dance
    Singing Poetry
    DaNCinG SonG
    Will Take
    All The
    Emptiness
    Within Away
    FoR A More
    Colorful
    Life Now
    my FRiEnD
    Just Being
    Kind to
    One
    Another
    And CracKinG
    Even Icebergs
    With Titanic
    Force
    Dance
    Song SMiLes
    Real MaGiC
    Shape
    Shifting

    In

    Deed Other

    Than That HAha

    You Are Only A

    Second

    Word

    Press

    ‘Victim Today’

    When Someone

    Hurts Your Feelings

    You Just Color

    Other

    FLoWeRS

    HoW THoRNS

    BeCoME Roses

    WitH SMiLinG Creativity 💫

    Like

      1. I knew there were sacrifices to living out of the U.S… But I dunno about that. 😐 Even though I could make it any time of the year, its not the same. I would probably start a Pecan smuggling operation if I did move away from here…🤣 It’s a hell of a drug, lol. Worth the shipping costs.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I so love your writing, Z!!! Your line – “‘It’s just one of them days…’” reminds of the motto I use – “It’s Always Something”! Seems your photo was like Art – everyone sees what’s interesting to them. Cake is so attractive and poor Knifey got pushed out of the spotlight, as you say! You were So creative with this piece, Brilliant!

    Seems Knifey had one of those days when he should have stayed in the drawer. All of the other knives will be gossiping and making fun about how he met his demise, by a cake??? Will the others put him in the Hall of Shame!
    Everyone has a time to go, I guess! So loved the life insights, Dear!!
    xoxo 😘💕🌹😍

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Way before I even read the post..I already got caught with the cake..and a part of me wanted to know who its been made so I hop into reading the whole thing only to realize..some knife actually broke!!
    This piece is one of a kind..I liked reading it!!

    Like

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