We are all self portraits. We interpret what we see ourselves to be, who we see ourselves to be, and then put that on the blank canvas. Depending on our interpretation, we might use a heavy, dark stroke, or many light and feathery marks. Maybe we shade the picture darkly, or maybe we give it color and life. Maybe we blur the edges, or make everything distinct and harsh.We infuse the portrait with our unique style and interpretation, conveying the image that we see in our minds.

But this portrait is not what is real. It’s only what we see. Who can say what the real thing is, what the true perception is? If 20 different artists are asked to paint an apple, the result will be 20 distinct paintings. So how do we know if our self image is right? Is our portrait more like a photo, or an abstract painting? Are we acting on our true desires and thoughts, or on the image we wish ourselves to be?

All others can see of us is what we paint for them. We decide what lines to paint, what truths to tell, what imperfections to cover up, what lies to perpetuate, what traits to enhance. We see what we want to be and try to convince others that that is how we truly appear.

And they don’t know any better than to accept our portraits. They react to us according to these portraits, and the image is perpetuated, until we’re not sure which parts we modified. Which parts were smudged a little, and which are genuine? The only person who can know for sure is ourselves, but when we’ve become so accustomed to viewing ourselves as a likeness to this portrait, that we don’t even know the truth anymore.

Sometimes we can tell. A part peaks out that isn’t congruous with our portrait. We try to hide it, to shove it down, to throw it away, but we can’t because its the truth. It may be an ugly, unwanted truth, but its a truth nonetheless. It causes stress, because we want to convince ourselves that our portrait is genuine, that we are good artist, and that we aren’t deceiving anyone. But the truth is, we deceive everyone, including ourselves.

All we want to do is become our portraits. We wish that the portrait really was us, that it was a perfect representation, that we were painting the absolute truth. We wished that we were that unique image, so unlike anyone elses’ self portraits, so distinct and appealing. But hardly any of us are really what we paint.

We try to make ourselves look like our portraits instead of making our portraits look like ourselves.

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