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#Trust30 – Image

June 30, 2011

Image by Matthew Stillman

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup – smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that don’t really fit you – put them on. Put on a top that doesn’t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that don’t match. Different lengths, materials, colors, elasticity.

Now two shoes. You know the drill.

Need to add more? Ties? Hair clips? Stick your gut out? I trust you to go further.

Take a picture.

Get ready to post it online.

Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why don’t you care?

(Author: Matthew Stillman)


I absolutely loved today’s prompt, and though I was supposed to devote the morning to pitching, After The Virus, and the afternoon to writing, I’ve decided to briefly – if I am actually capable of being brief – respond to this above idea.

I spent the majority of my childhood and teen years attempting to be perfect, as anyone who still knows me from those days can attest too – there are not many of you around anymore! Now, in deference to brevity, I shall not get in to the reasons I constantly strived to project this “perfect” image, just that it was what it was. My mid-20s were spent in-between callings (I had thought to be an actress my entire life previous) and in a relatively dark place (in my head), and this, in hindsight was a particularly difficult period for me.

Right around my 25th year I was treated to a couple of actual epiphanies. One was a difficult pill and the other was much more affirming (and a completely different topic).

The difficult pill to swallow was that it was currently I, rather than some previous outside force or forces, who demanded this constant perfection. The dusting of make-up, the waxing every 6 weeks, the cute haircut (no bangs in my eyes!), the with-out-a-single-chip manicure and the parade of pretty dresses where my entire construct. And, of course, I always had to be polite and sweet as possible–my opinions constantly tempered (even to some degree today I still attempt to not just simply attack people willy-nilly with my opinions, etc).

So, after many racking sobs and a few terrible fights with various people, I just backed off. I eased off my personal pressure cooker. I only did such things as make-up if I felt it was necessary or polite–dressing up is also a sign of respect.

Yes, I do fall back into this personal pressure cooker, especially with the writing, all the time, but at least, to extend the metaphor beyond comfort, I don’t slam on the lid for a decade or two.

Right now, I have nail polish on my fingernails that is WEEKS old.

Take that perfection – I DEFY you with the very tips of my fingers.

You don’t own me.


And f*ck anyone who asks/expects different of me, including myself.

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