When you pack up your bags and step into a new adventure you know that all sorts of emotions and feelings will pop up at one point or another.
And that’s perfectly fine because that’s part of life, of travelling and definitely part of the fun.
But for the first 2 weeks of my stay in Berlin something popped up that I had not expected:
Insecurity about the way I look, and therefore about the way I am.
As a woman, or perhaps as a human being, this is not the first time I’ve had to deal with this particular bit of insecurity. Not by a long shot!
But you’d expect it to sort of go away after 36 years… Especially if you’ve worked really hard on dealing with it properly and if you’ve learned to fully embrace every last bit of yourself, inside and out.
And I have!
Well…most of the times…
But there you go, I’m apparently still not enlightened enough (if there even is such a thing) and was faced with this ancient piece of emotional luggage yet once again.
And all due to 2 obvious triggers:
First of all, though it’s a lot of fun to learn all about filmmaking in my documentary making course…
…it’s quite the confrontation to continuously see yourself back on a huge screen.
I really do consider myself an attractive woman most of the time but I can’t help scrutinising every little thing about myself whilst seeing myself on film:
- Why, for heavens sake, do I blink that much?
- Is that really what I look like from behind in that dress?
- OMG my hair!
(I won’t even go in to the way I talk, laugh or keep interrupting people for now…)
Interestingly, it’s not just me. All my classmates have the same reaction to themselves. Which is weird because they all look absolutely gorgeous on film…
…we’re such bitches to ourselves sometimes, aren’t we?
The second reason why I’ve been feeling a little uncomfortable with myself…
…is because Berlin is the kind of city where making an effort is frowned upon.
In other words, the moment you put on a clean dress, some mascara and brush your hair you’re already overdressed…that is, if you fall into the ‘normal people’ category.
Because the more alternative people here, with all their tattoos, piercings, dreaded, shaved and/or coloured hair really do make a huge effort to look a certain part. There’s a lot of work that goes into looking that derelicte (definition: a fashion; a way of life inspired by homeless, vagrants,and crack whores – Urban Dictionary)…
It’s not like I want to change myself…I really like my pencil skirts, the occasional flowery dress, my semi-natural brown/blonde hair and my 2 hardly visible tattoos…I’ve found my style…and I’m happy to stick with it!
But I’ve got issues with being judged for looking a certain way. And in these past 2 weeks I couldn’t really help but feeling like I was.
Like I was too ‘normal’.
And I’ve never felt normal in my life!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been having a total blast here and am definitely not down in the dumps by all this…
But it annoys me to bits that this is even a ‘thing’ we human beings need to deal with.
That we tag our identities to the way we look, constantly judge people who look differently and that we let ourselves be negatively influenced by those exact judgments.
Because how much can you really tell by the way someone looks?
An example…I met someone as part of my documentary research the other day: shaved front of the head, dreads in the back (kind of like an extreme mullet), a lot of piercings through his nose and ears and all sorts of metal and leather accessories. And yet…this was one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met! He loves to garden, chats with his very normal neighbours and works with disabled people.
And I’m sure that you, just like me, have met loads of people who looked all sorts of normal but were complete and utter assholes.
And what about myself? I felt so intimidated by the people hanging in front of an anarchistic bar the other day that I didn’t even go in. They were staring me up and down and were obviously not approving me, though I’m sure my views on politics and life are very much aligned with them. And I might even be more free in my anarchy because I don’t even conform to their norm…
On the other hand…I’ve swiped so many Tinder guys to the left that I’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome in my thumb…
So, quite the predicament not?
How not to let the way somebody looks cloud our judgment of them (and ourselves)?
Here’s how I’m dealing with it:
1. Be myself and completely OWN it (and not give a fuck)!
No desperately going through the bins of a thrift shop to find old Doc Martens and the perfect baggy dress. No putting up my hair Amy Winehouse style. No letting my nail polish simply chip away over time instead of reapplying it.
Not unless I feel like it! Cause I do love to play around with outfits, my hair, my black eyeliner. Of course I do! But not for the sake of wanting to fit in. Never that!
2. Be aware of my own narrow mindedness (and move past it)
Yes, as realised before, I’m nowhere near Buddha like and can be very narrow minded at times. All I can do about that is be aware of it and stop myself in my tracks when I notice it. Or when someone points it out to me.
Of course, this is also why I’m on this journey of asking people ‘How is it to be you’; to get past the outside and make a meaningful connection with the person inside the package.
3. Be the change I want to see in the world (instead of forcing others to behave differently)
I really want that everybody gets over themselves and start treating each other like equals but my past frustrated missionary techniques have never proven themselves successful…
So I’ve got to stop doing forcing others to change and instead just give the good example, have the open mind, share my vulnerability and who knows…it might just inspire others to do the same.
4. Always trust my instincts (instead of naively trusting everyone)
Okay, sure, don’t judge solely on looks but…of course not everyone is the super friendly ‘let’s go and decorate cupcakes’ kind. There are bad people out there…in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Besides the obvious fact that I’d rather not be bludgeoned to death with a currywurst (I am, after all, in Germany), some people just suck up too much energy and positivity and that’s simply not healthy for me.
This is probably never going to be easy. In the end we human beings all want a tribe to fit in with; these days not so much for the sake of survival but more for the sake of creating meaning out of our existence and identity. Because who would you be without it?
Personally, I feel the time has come to move past this. Past our insecurity and past our judgment. To learn how to not limit ourselves to outer characteristics and inner beliefs but instead learn how to just be.
And be all the more amazing because of it!