Posted by: shatteringsamskaras | June 12, 2012

Picking Your Mirrors

“Use us as a mirror…” a friend said to me…

It was, strangely, an idea I’ve been carefully and specifically rejecting for 6 years, ever since I located this amazing group I think of as “my people.” Be careful, I tell myself. Don’t think approval in this strange and wonderful subculture means anything. Don’t think that people who know you liking you and seeming to approve of you means anything inthe real world. Above all, I tell myself, don’t ever let yourself trust that it’s actually enough.

And yet, the more I get to know the sub-culture (which I generally refer to as “the geeks” in conversation, but which are often fundamentally misrepresented by generalizations such as this one), the more their opinions mean to me. And the less I care about what the “mundanes” think-of me, or of anything else for that matter.

Now, as a business owner, and a professional, and a neighbor, and a member of society, there are some rules I don’t have any desire to break. But at the end of the day, I realize more and more that I don’t flippin’ care if I match Cosmo magazine’s standards of beauty, or Fortune magazine’s standard’s of success, or some 21-year-old’s standards of energy, or some minister’s standards of morality. For the record, I don’t… But every one of those standards are designed by people I don’t know, whose values and world view I don’t share.

Because I’m figuring out that what I care about is what the people who know me think of me. For so long, I’ve discounted the opinions of my nearest and dearest exactly because they know me. Somehow I believed that it was only the opinions of strangers that mattered. That only strangers could judge me “objectively” (read: harshly enough to satisfy my worst inner critics.) That the less I lived up to a given standard, the more significant that standard was.

Perhaps it’s part of that terrible process of growing up – realizing that I not only can but have the obligation to pick my own mirrors. Not that there aren’t others who will be happy to do it for me – the aforementioned media and magazines and various political or commercial or religious institutions. But at the end of the day, any mirror selected by someone else is likely to reflect what they value, and not necessarily what I value, and that’s really not very helpful in helping me see what is important to me.


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