How I (but Didn’t Even Know I) See Myself, and other Third Person Musings Inspired by Dove

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So I am very aware that I have not been following up on my own personal challenge of completing the prompts from the book, 642 Things to Write About. I could probably sit here and give you a bunch of excuses why, some of which are valid, some of which are not, but I won’t. Because there is really only one reason why I have been avoiding it and it is because of this next prompt.

“Describe yourself in the third person – your physical appearance and personality – as though you were a character in a book.”

No friggin way.

One, character descriptions really are not my forte. As in, I kinda suck at them. Maybe because my characters aren’t very definite in my head, I mean, physically. I can hear them and feel them and know what they think, but what they look like? Meh, that’s a little less clear. So then to put it down on paper they end up with some kind of hair color, eye color, tall or short, and that’s about it. I say it’s because I want the reader to see their own person in their head, not the one I spoon-feed them. But I think I’m just too lazy to do an accurate character sketch and then keep it in my head. I wish I was a better artist, or an artist at all, then I could draw these beautiful portraits and hang them around my computer screen to inspire me as I write, seeing my characters cheer me on.

Okay, that is just lame. Basically, I suck at descriptions.

And I most definitely suck at my own.

Why? Well, because I can’t really say any good stuff about me. One, because I was raised not to be vain (go back to my eating disorder blog and remember what my dad said to me when I discovered a 6-pack…there was no room for self-promotion or self-adoration in my house) and two, well, I have this terrible fear of saying anything good about myself. I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid of the judgment that will inevitably come after (I remember shopping for clothes may years ago, trying on an outfit and loving it. I said, “I love this, this looks good on me. I’m going to buy it,” to which I was then called many nasty things for daring to be so full of myself as to compliment the outfit I wanted to buy. Because the alternative was what? To find something that made me look frumpy and get that instead?) or if it’s just too hard to think of something good to say about myself.

I think ultimately, I can’t possibly think up anything good to say about myself.

I have been beating myself up for so much of my life that I don’t know how not to. And honestly, no one wants to read some character sketch full of self-pity and self-loathing.  Besides, I’ve spent the past 6 months trying to forgive myself, to banish those horrible thoughts from my head, that I’m not about to revert back to them, to actually put them onto paper and thus give them power. The problem is, I’ve spent so long thinking only ill-thoughts about myself that I hardly know what is truth and what isn’t. I hardly know how to even begin describing myself.

I could imagine that I am on one end of some online dating site and you, all you amazing people who are reading this, could be on the receiving end, typing, “What do you look like?” into the computer. But even then, I’d be stumped.

What do I say?

I can’t say I’m pretty, because that would be full of myself. That would be so arrogant to dare think of myself as pretty. I mean, we are not allowed to do that, are we? Sure, as kids it’s cute when a little girl puts on a beautiful dress and spins around and looks in the mirror and says, “I’m so beautiful!” But that’s because she doesn’t know better, and because all little kids are beautiful (even the funny looking ones have this awesome cuteness about them. Like you might shudder a bit and go, “Oh, man! That kid looks like a bad make up job on the old but young and horribly creepy Benjamin Button!” And then you look again and think, but they’re so cute!!!). That little girl doesn’t realize that it is unladylike, un-womanly, un-feminist, un-human, to consider oneself beautiful. Others can say it, but we certainly aren’t allowed to believe it, are we?

How many people have seen that Dove commercial where women are to walk through two doors, a beautiful one and an average one? Wait, I’ll try and post it here. Watch it. It’s amazing and sad and depressing all at the same time. Because choosing beautiful instead of average was a difficult and abnormal decision. Because we struggle to see ourselves as beautiful, and even if we secretly do, we don’t feel like we’re allowed to say it. It’s like there is this cloud hanging over us, keeping us average, holding us down, making us see shadows where we should see light.

Why is it so hard to see the beauty in all of us, the truth of who we really are instead of this story we tell ourselves? If I was asked to describe anybody else, my friends, my family, anyone but myself in the third person, it would be so easy. Because I see them every day. They make me smile, every day.

I would make everyone I know walk through the beautiful door on that Dove commercial. But myself? Well, I couldn’t.

So that is why I’m going to do something so hard, so incredibly difficult and something that scares me. I am going to describe myself in the third person and I’m not going to look at any aspect of myself in a negative light. I am going to describe myself as how I hope others see me, how I feel inside when I’m having a really good day, when I’m listening to a fantastic song that makes me happy and I catch a glimpse of my shining face in the mirror and think, hey, she’s not so bad. And I’m not going to feel stuck up or arrogant or full of myself for thinking something good about myself. Because I have to live with myself every single day and why live with someone you don’t like? I see the good in others, why can’t I do it for myself?

So here goes…

The first thing you notice about her is her eyes. Big, round, brown eyes. Her eyebrows are a perfect frame for them, not too thick and not too thin. She’s got freckles in the summer or when the sun has hit her face, freckles that come out across her cheeks and her nose first, then spread over the rest of her face. She’s got a cute, round nose and her lips never have lipstick on them. They don’t need it, or she can’t be bothered to wear it, we don’t really know, but her pink lips are one area that draws your attention. Not because they are overly full or narrow, not because there is anything particular about them but that they are just nice to look at. She has a very square jaw, it is the German in her as it has been passed down through many of her aunties and her mother, coming from her grandfather Gaertner. That jaw is such that long hair does not suit her in the slightest, and so she keeps it short. Her hair is one thing she wishes she could change, but she has accepted it and has been able to see the good in its not-really-curly-but-not-really-straight thinness and loves the freedom of keeping it short. Even though it has started to grey, you’d never know it, as she dyes it dark to match her eyebrows. Right now she is loving the patch of light on the right side, as a way to change up the solid black she’d been wearing for so long.

Another thing you notice right away are the tattoos. Even if she forgets about them, they are hard to miss, for they cover the length of her right arm, the inside of her left, and nearly all of her back and sides, although that you’d rarely see those as she is not one to be comfortable baring too much skin. She is much too reserved for that. But on holidays, on the beach, you may be lucky enough to glimpse the entirety of the art piece she wears on her skin. And art it is, for it matches the curves of her body as perfectly as it matches who she is. They were never chosen for their ability to say something, to signify some part of her life, and yet, the artist’s skill was so great that each tattoo seems to reveal another piece of her. They are parts of her personality and self she didn’t know was there until she saw it staring at her in the mirror, in the greys and blacks and reds and sepia tones that now cover her body.

To describe her personality is as complicated as describing her tattoos, but they can be used to explain her just a little bit because the way she got herself so covered is just a reflection of who she is. There was no long term planning, no careful choosing what image to permanently implant onto her body. She just walked in and gave full trust to the artist, she didn’t even know what he was going to do until right before the procedure began. And that was fine with her, because she doesn’t like to think too much about one thing or another. She has no patience for longterm decisions, weighing the pros and cons of something, going back and forth in an effort to come out with the most rational decision. There is no rational decision as far as Randi Jo is concerned, there is only what is in your gut, in your heart, and that is the only decision there is. For if you go against that, you go against your very nature and only ill can come from that.

When you first meet her, you’ll notice she’s rather quiet and shy, because she really never knows what to do at the outset. But just get her talking, about anything that’s not sport related and she will talk your ear off. Especially if it’s something she’s passionate about, then she cannot be stopped. And she is passionate about many things. There is no middle ground for her, just one extreme or the other. Which, might be difficult to handle for some people, but I promise you, she won’t bore you, you just might have to pay close attention because she is rather impossible to follow once she gets going.

She loves to laugh and has a good sense of humor, often cracking jokes at inappropriate times and at her own and sometimes others expense, but never with ill intention. Although she may be opinionated, she never seeks to harm anyone and has a hard time forgiving herself if she has caused anyone pain. Which often happens because she tends not to think before she speaks, but she is getting better at that.

She has a wild imagination and is not always present, if her eyes seem to have glazed over, she’s probably off in some fairy tale that is going through her head, that takes her at random and often inappropriate times. That cannot be helped.

She is scattered and impractical but loyal and loving. If you are her friend or her family, she will cherish you, even if she forgets things like dates and events and appointments. It’s not that she wasn’t thinking about you, she was just lost in some other world and forgot (see above paragraph) and for that she is very sorry.

There are so many more things to say about the paradox that is Randi Jo, and as you can see, she could go on for many paragraphs about it because she truly does love words and word crafting and anything to do with that. But she will stop there. Because you can only talk about yourself in the third person for so long before it’s time to get out of your head and your house, and find someone else who wants to hear you speak.

You know what? I might have actually enjoyed that a little bit. It’s nice to realize that I do actually have a fondness for myself hidden away behind all the self-deprecation. I think I’m going to talk about myself in a positive light more often (don’t worry, I know I already talk about myself enough. Lets change that to, think about myself instead of talking, shall we?) and maybe you should too. All of you who watched that Dove commercial and thought for a split second that you couldn’t walk through the Beautiful door, do it now. Perhaps not in a physical sense, but you can do it in a literary sense. Describe yourself in the most positive way you can and you’ll see that the Average door begins to disintegrate, leaving only the Beautiful one. Because we are all beautiful and we need to be the first ones, not the last ones, to see that.

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