Since moving to Seattle, my self-image has drastically changed. When I was in Florida, I was usually the most radically liberal, open-minded and adventurous person in the room. When I talked about the environment, people would roll their eyes. When I went out of my way to recycle something, I’d be scoffed at. When I said I approved of gay marriage, people were horrified. The fact that I often travelled alone was considered scandalous.
Here in Seattle, on the other hand, I actually appear to be relatively conservative. When I mentioned that in fact I did not want to rid the entire city of cars, I was met with stunned silence the other day. When I asked a question about composting, I was looked at as if I had a single digit IQ. (As in, “How is it that you don’t already know this?”) People have lifestyles here that I’d never even contemplated before. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just new to me.) And when I was too shy to enter a club until my friend arrived, she told me I was old fashioned.
I also never thought of myself as a tomboy in Florida. Maybe it’s because in the land of shorts and t-shirts, it’s hard to stand out as particularly androgynous. Here, I’ve been told by a surprising number of people that I’m not girly. Here I am at 51, trying to incorporate this fact into my emotional resume. It’s a strange feeling, albeit true to the very marrow of my bones.
It seems that one’s self-image depends a great deal upon one’s environment. If you’re a baby swan and you’re surrounded by other baby swans, it would never occur to you that you might be considered an ugly duckling. So, how much of your self-image is actually SELF? Something to think about.
Another thing to think about is why do we care? Why do we compare ourselves to others? What difference do our differences make? I have to admit that it’s a hard habit to break, though.