Someone made an offhand comment to me a couple months ago that has stuck with me ever since. It was someone I had just met, and I was photographing them, and at some point I said “you look like a bad ass!” and they laughed. Not a shy chuckle, but they were genuinely amused. I asked them why they were laughing and felt surprised a bit – I was expecting to reassure them that they truly were rocking the shoot. Instead, she said “it’s just funny — it’s like being called a bad ass by a cute little kitten”. This obviously wasn’t meant to be insulting, but it’s just been stuck in my head. Do I really strike people as a “cute little kitten”? What about me and my personality made her think this? Is this something common that people gather about me, or was this unique? It really bothered me because I don’t see myself this way at all. So it has lead to many deep thoughts about self-perception.
I would be willing to bet that every single person alive has some personal idea of how they are, how their personality is, their aura, the vibe they give off to others, their demeanor. And I’d also be willing to bet that at least 99% of us are totally wrong. The way we feel inside isn’t always the way we express ourselves on the outside, which is often a shame. I for one know that I am not always openly the person that I truly am, for better or for worse. The reasons why it hides vary — shyness, insecurity, attempting to fit into some other mold. It seems impossible to be 100% yourself, 100% of the time. And you open yourself up, ultimately, to people not liking things about you. But that’s okay. My Mom is a huge proponent of this — being truly yourself so you weed out everyone who is not meant to be close to you, and you reel in those who are. I’ve watched her fully blossom into her true self over the past 7 or 8 years and it’s been awesome. She’s an encouraging example of just saying “fuck it” and putting yourself out there.
I don’t know if I want to be a “cute little kitten”, and I may never know what about me struck her that way. Is it my more positive qualities — being warm, kind, friendly? Or some not-so-positive ones — being shy, timid, lacking a sense of confidence and power? Either way, it motivates me to always be aware of putting forward my most honest and true face.