Do You Look Like Who You Say You Are?

Have you ever run into someone and not recognize them, or you recognize them but can’t figure out who they are or where you know them from?  Often times it is because you see the person out of context; in a place you don’t normally see him or her, perhaps dressed differently than when you normally see them.  Perhaps you aren’t really paying much attention to the people around you.  Does the person actually look different, or do we see them differently, or is it both.  Both because we are all a complexity of the things we do, the experiences we have, the emotions we are feeling and so many more things that influence the way we look.

I find it interesting how we are told to be our authentic self.  It is as if we are inclined to present someone we are not, or maybe pretending to be someone or something we are not; perhaps wearing a mask, disguising ourselves.  Hmmm… How is it people can’t see through that?  I am a product of my genetics, a product of my experiences good and bad, and a product of my thoughts.  I suppose in the aspect of being a product of my thoughts I may not be who I say I am.  Consider my post I AM An Athlete.

A good many years ago, gathered around a fire at the neighbour’s house with a bunch of other people (having planned to go for a long bike ride in the morning with the hosts of the party), my neighbour and I joked that we needed to eat the chips that were going by because “we are athletes and need to bulk up for the ride”.  It is a common thing to carb up when you are about to embark on a particularly gruelling event the next day, usually by way of pasta, not party snacks.  At any rate, we laughed and laughed and “I am an Athlete” became the thing to say for just about anything.  What she didn’t know until I talked to her about that post, is that I started saying it elsewhere as well.  When asked at the grocery store if I needed help out, my reply was a quick, “No thanks, I’m an athlete, I can do it”.  I simply smile at the thought of it because I wonder (but don’t really want to know) if they think I am some kind of nutball for saying that.  I do it because I find it amusing, but also out of habit. Such a habit that when I have to lift something heavy or do some gruelling task, I tell myself the same thing.

We get in the habit of saying things to ourselves that may be destructive to our well-being.  I could never do that.  I am not good at that. I am too young to do that/I am too old for that.  I don’t like that.  I don’t want to get hurt.  I don’t want to start and not carry through.  I am not smart enough.  I am too heavy/big/fat.  I am too out of shape.  I am not good looking enough or just not good enough.  Interestingly, most of us trust ourselves more than anyone else and we believe what we tell ourselves.  We start to look like the person we see ourself as.

Despite our misgivings about ourselves, a friend will tell you of your beauty, encourage you when you are down.  They know you deeper than the surface.  Have you ever noticed on days when you are feeling especially happy, people tend to look at you and smile.  They see that beauty in you.  You are beautiful!

On the other hand, people make quick judgements about who we are based on our looks, things they have heard about us or things we say to them.  When you go to a work function and someone asks what you do for a living, your answer will earn you a nice little box in the eyes of the person.  If you have a piece of paper in the form of a degree, people look at you just a little different than if you are a high school drop out.  If you have a conversation over breakfast with a group of people brought together through blogging, they may have an image of you based on what you have written in your blog, but if the question of religion comes up, your answer will determine the box you are put in according to their preconceived ideas of what that religion entails.

Despite all the sports I play, I like to have my nails done.  I get gel nails and I get them done really short because of the sports I play.  I like the feeling of having a reinforced surface of protection for my nails.  I like that they look nice.  I went to a new nail tech; it was my first time meeting her and in my instructions for my nails talked about the sports I do.  Later in the appointment, she commented that I don’t look like someone who does all the sports and activities I do.  I was a little taken aback and assumed (incorrectly) that it was because of my size.  I am a little heavy, but because of my preconceived ideas of what an athlete looks like I don’t look the correct size and shape of someone who does so many activities.  She told me that it was because she saw me as looking very businesslike.

It is always interesting to hear what people think of us.  Okay, maybe just sometimes.  Of course we worry that what others think of us is negative, unflattering or bad, when usually it’s not the case at all…they don’t give us a second thought.  Most of the time what people think of us has nothing to do with us, but everything with to do with the other person’s world view.  Knowing this, does it really matter what image we present? Even if we are wearing a mask, pretending to be someone we aren’t or faking it until we make it, does it matter? People would still be seen through the lenses and preconceived ideas of the viewer. Some people see through the mask, but they still don’t see the real person, but the mask they perceive.

Here is an amazing video of how a person can see you differently based on the information given.  The photographers are all given different information on this person and told to capture that in the photos of him.  It is striking how different the photos look and is a great example of how people might see us differently given different information.

Ultimately, I believe we need to be conscientious and responsible in presenting ourselves honestly, not purposely misleading people.  That is being true to who you are.  If you are working on being a happy person, yet feeling down, I believe fooling yourself for a moment by smiling big in the mirror is a healthy choice.  Telling yourself you are a happy person is better than wallowing in sadness as long as you stay away of the line between changing your habits and denial; sometimes there is a fine line.  That is where you are true to yourself.  Time to go out and be your best you or better yet, the best you, you want to be.



Feeling Off…And Yet

A month ago I started a blog post.  I have yet to finish it.  It will take a little more work.  I started feeling off shortly after starting the post.  I am not quite sure what happened but my stomach started feeling upset, a bit of nausea, some heartburn and some indigestion.  I felt tired and there was a feeling of sadness that cropped up too.  I didn’t seem to have a fever or even a real feeling of being sick, just off.  I had it for about 5 days (or at least that was when I noticed it being regular) when I met someone at the gym who described the same symptoms and she had had it for 6 days at the time.  Some family members have had the same thing.  Along with the intermittent stomach upset and feelings of not being able to face people, there was some bloating, water retention and weight gain.  It lasted 3 weeks and of course I was beginning to think I should go to the doctor because it is ‘probably something serious’.

I really hate that feeling between sick and not.  Sometimes I think it would be better to be sick for a day or two and be done with it.  At least then I know I am sick and feel like I should (and need) to rest.  When in limbo, I either feel lazy for doing nothing or feel like I need to do something to get out of the slump.  That is what happened this time.  When I was feeling like I had trouble spending time with people, I started looking for solutions.  This fall I was busy with so many things and as those outdoor chores came to an end, I was being less active.  I was still doing my regular activities I had signed up for but there were days in between where I didn’t have activities and I was less active.

So, I signed up for more things.  Yep, because when you are not feeling well, it is the logical thing to do–sign up for more workout classes.  I signed up for kickboxing which I have never done before.  The instructor let me join even though there were only three classes left; and because I could, I signed up for her toning boot camp as well.  For the last 3 weeks I added these two one hour-long classes to my week and it helped me get out first thing in the morning and have more energy when I got back home.

At the same time, our church had a health weekend which I missed because I was really sick that weekend.  There has been an initiative to get more active and compete with steps.  I got a Fitbit Charge HR and have had some fun monitoring my activities and sleep.

Despite all of this, I was a little worried about not feeling well last weekend after my crazy Thursday activities, so last Friday I went for a 3 km run.  The weather was (and has been consistently) beautiful and it was good.  So good, I went for a 5 km run on Saturday and then a 5 km run on Tuesday this week.  Despite my boot camp this morning I wasn’t able to get all my steps in so my husband and I went for an hour-long walk this evening.

The kickboxing and boot camp have ended until January as of today, but I am looking forward to playing racquetball next Monday and snowboarding next week as well.  I am definitely feeling better; last Thursday I was actually looking forward to going to basketball.  I have had more energy during my activities as well.

It has been my experience that when feeling a bit off, exercise can help, if not to make me feel better physically, to make me feel better emotionally.  When I feel better emotionally, I am able to get through that time easier and recover more quickly.  Exercise does boost your immune system when you don’t overdo it, and when you are not suffering too much (high fever, ready to puke, sore muscles).  If you are feeling a bit off, I recommend you try some activity.  Choose something based on your current activity level and how you feel.  If you haven’t been very active, perhaps a short 15 minute walk would be in order.  Increase the time and/or exertion from there if you are normally more active. Make sure you listen to your body, but also be aware you can do more than you “feel” like doing.

Rest is important so make sure you get plenty of rest, nutrients and fluids as well. But don’t be afraid to stay active as well. Remember, this too shall pass.  When it does pass you will be happy you didn’t let things go so far that getting back to moving is difficult.  You’ve got this.