I had an interesting conversation with my husband, Scott, the other day. He’s an avid photographer, and one of his favorite hobbies is street photography. That’s when you take unposed pictures of real people just going about their business, usually on a city street or in some other public place. These kinds of photos show you a slice of life, a snapshot of a particular moment in time, unscripted. When you have an artistic eye like Scott, the most mundane scenes become beautiful or fascinating or moving. It’s actually pretty cool.
And yet…. As I told Scott, if I were to catch a street photographer taking a picture of me, I would not be happy. In fact, I would probably be angry. I don’t care how artistic, innocent, or legal it may be. I feel possessive when it comes to my own image.
I know we can’t always control how we are portrayed. For sure, there have been plenty of bad pictures of me over the years—bad hair, bad expressions, bad lighting, etc., etc.
Still, to the extent that I do have any control over how I’m viewed, I would like the chance to put my best face forward.
This got me to thinking about the other ways in which we present ourselves. For example, there’s your “Bio” (or “About” page, if you have a website). Anytime you write a bio for yourself, you get to choose what information should be included. How do you want to be perceived? Most of us wear multiple hats and could probably write different versions of our biographies depending on what purpose they are meant to serve.
For example, in my day job I’m a lawyer. So, naturally my lawyer bio focuses on my legal work and is quite different from my author bio (given that I write fiction that doesn’t directly relate to my job). By the same token, in my blog, where I focus on my life as a writer, the lawyer bit isn’t as important. In fact, given all the stereotypes about lawyers, I prefer not to highlight it much here at all!
But, there’s another way we can control our public image. We can simply embody the persona we want to project. This is a little like a Jedi mind trick, but I think it works. It’s like the old advice to “dress for the job you want.” For instance, if you smile at people, they will think you’re nice and friendly. If you stop fidgeting and pretend for a moment that you are a Paris fashion model, they’ll think you’re beautiful and confident. (Not that I’ve ever done that, of course. At least, not for more than two seconds…)
Just act like whatever it is you want to be. It’s like faking bravery. If you act courageous even when you don’t feel it, you will appear brave. (And you may soon find yourself feeling more courageous as a result.)
Having said all that, I know we can never completely control how others see us. After all, everyone else is walking around with their very own personal set of filters.
But, we do have a fair amount of power over how we carry ourselves in the world--which, I believe, affects how we ultimately feel about the image looking back at us in the mirror. And, in the end, that’s probably the most important opinion anyway.
A nature-loving, mystery-reading, magic-seeking, daydreaming kinda gal, Jennifer is the author of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries.