Raising Elves

As wild as nature. Myself, parenting and natural remedies blog.

What do you think when you look at a photo of yourself?


I found a photo of myself recently, from when I was about 16.


The only reason why it still exists is because my old dog is in it.

I hate seeing myself in photos.

Many, many, photos of myself have been torn up, destroyed, burned and thrown out.


Is it seeing myself through a different lens that makes me so… anxious?

I think it is the thought that this is what I look like to the world.

Not what the mirror reflects but what the camera projects.

What do people see when they look at me?

I cannot possibly imagine because when I look at myself in this way I am fully exposed and also so critical and cruel.

I know exactly what is going on behind those eyes, those tense shoulders, that taut jaw.

When we look at others we can only speculate as to the meaning behind their facial expressions and the way they hold themselves. We can never know for sure what is really going on. It is always speculation, no matter how good we think we are at reading people.

When I look at a photo of myself I see the wrung out stomach, the breath holding, the un-shed tears and the conflicting personality.

The silent sensitivity -vs- excessive talking.

The lack of self esteem -vs- self confidence.

The fixer -vs- the brokenness.

I see that unshakable feeling of being so un-likeable yet I still just throw myself out there into the world.

Here I am‘, I wave excitedly and over-enthusiastically while I let myself all hang out without a filter.

I then feel exposed and vulnerable, rejected because I reject myself and like I don’t fit in yet still insist on being there really fucking awkwardly.

Still I throw myself in to the middle despite it all.

I pose for photos (vainly on my good side of course), chat on the street, join clubs and facebook groups. I call for people, organise playdates and actively get to know new people.

Just be yourself is easy to say, but, is the world ready for that? Is society ready for us all to just be ourselves?


When I observe how looking at this photo effects me I wish I knew what people thought of me because, surely, it can’t be as bad as I think.

I imagine that the self-deprecating habit I developed as a young person has become more literate and vicious than what most people would be capable of thinking about me.

As I hear myself wishing that, that voice crops up and lambastes me for needing from others. Needing approval.

Then, when I calm down I realise that that voice feeds off of my sense of rejection and that same need for approval.

If I stop needing approval then I can’t feel rejected. I suppose.

Maybe then that voice will be gone.

A part of me does throw myself out there from a ‘I don’t need approval‘ place but when I do, I just feel weird and alone in my over-enthusiasm and the way I wear socks with my Birks 😉

When I feel this way I pull myself back out by reminding myself that my husband chose me. This man who quietly leaves fools to suffer themselves. He lets very few people in. You can count his complete trustees on one hand and of those people I am honoured to stand alongside them. So that makes me feel better. To be liked by someone like him? For someone like him to actually want my company? The most honest and loving person I’ve ever met? So comfortable in his un-coolness he’s actually cool? That’s an honour.

I realise now that I mustn’t be that bad.


Back to the photo.

What do you think when you look at a photo of yourself?

Tell me I am not alone in the psychoanalyses?


12 thoughts on “What do you think when you look at a photo of yourself?

  1. So not alone, wonderfully written. I could relate to all of that, and I do that too with my husband 🙂

  2. Pingback: Irish Parenting Bloggers | What do you think when you look at a photo of yourself?

  3. You are most definitely are not alone. I’m a m my own worst enemy when I look at photos of myself 😦

  4. I want to comment, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t identify with your thought process here, but that’s what makes it so fascinating to read about, and why I’m so glad you wrote it. My thoughts when looking at a photo of myself are far more superficial: “I look terrible” or “I look okay” or “I don’t look nearly as bad as I thought I did back then.” I think it’s a beautiful photo, by the way.

  5. Or “I can’t believe I thought those jeans/jumper/skirt looked good.” 🙂

  6. Laura that’s a really beautiful photograph, whether you can let that in or not, I thought I’d say it. I don’t know that I can add much else as it’s really left me thinking a lot.

    • Thanks Muuka. I do see that. A little. I guess I’m just becoming aware of how I see myself on a deeper level. I want to change that. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I’m always my own worst critic with pictures. .. old and new ugh 🙈

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