How many photos of you are there on your phone right now?
Maybe I can start off this confession session. On mine, there are 27 of me.
Yes, I’ve been known to take the *odd* selfie (although I have a hard time admitting it). Not that 27 is the total number I’ve ever taken. I’m a brutal curator and most of mine are deleted before anyone sees them. I also rarely post them on social media but use them for work-related things such as bios on articles and blogs.
However, below is a selfie of me that did make it to my Facebook page. I love this one because my dog and I have just been for a run and the remembered euphoria makes me not really care that I look like a bit of a grot.
In this selfie, Tilly is just about to slobber all over my face. That imminent face wash, combined with our surroundings, really makes it work. (Unlike my car-selfies—which are truly the saddest of all selfies because as much as I crop, I can never entirely lose the seatbelt and the car window, especially if I want to get the hair.) Context is everything!
It’s not just that people take lots of selfies these days, we also love viewing other people’s selfies… When we examine the images that other people publish of themselves, we get an insight into their world and what is important to them.
Beyond the surface data about a person’s appearance, such as their 'kissable lips' or eyes that have a touch of mischief, they provide us with information. Selfies say: ‘this is how I want you to see me’.
It’s serious business! The best selfie-takers make money. There are websites explaining how to get the best selfie. You'd better hire a selfie-booth for your wedding or 21st birthday party or people may get very bored! For a short moment I was even contemplating a selfie booth at our next family Christmas celebration. You know: the cute santa hats, the reindeer noses... No?
Let me just say that selfies are actually a new experience for someone like me. Up until the last five years, I have attempted to avoid cameras at all costs! I remember the days when we used to think that people who loved getting in front of the camera were ‘a bit up themselves’.
Yet the deeper reason behind the selfie craze may just be that we are really trying to capture the essence of who we truly are. When we peer into the eyes of someone in a photo (even if it's ourselves), maybe we’re trying to understand that person a little better.
The other day I went on a search for a different kind of selfie. It was a personality test: the popular Myers-Briggs one.
And here’s what I found out. My personality is INFJ, which stands for introverted (I), intuitive (N), feeling (F) and judging (J).
Apparently this is the rarest combination. But rather than assume I'm some exotic kind of creature, let me tell you that it finally explained what I’d always suspected: I'm a bit odd! One website said: “Some INFJs have difficulty fitting into society.”
It pointed out my strengths as well as my weaknesses and most of it had me nodding and feeling quite reflective.
My husband had done the test many years before because it’s a fairly common thing for business people to go through during the employment process. Large corporations want to know what they’re getting themselves into when they employ people to fill a role. Are they likely to be successful or psychopathic? Are they ambitious or embezzlers?
So when he saw the test doing the rounds on social media he sent me the link, and as soon as I woke up last Sunday morning, he said, “You really have to take this test.”
I remember doing an online career assessment test once. The result basically came out as: ‘You’re a mess of contradictions. I have no idea what you’d be good at.’ So I took up writing for a living.
I didn’t hold much hope for the M-B test result to be any different this Sunday. But, feeling fresh and setting up a nest of pillows to lean against and a cup of coffee within reach, I was ready.
What I didn’t expect was for a wave of emotion to engulf me. My husband said, “Are you crying?” And all I could say was, “Someone finally gets me!” (Okay, so it's a test, not a real person... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Here’s the thing: many of us go through our lives without really understanding ourselves. All we really know is how people react to us. And now that we have selfies, we have this dim reflection that we gaze at thinking, ‘Who are you exactly?’
It's unusual to have an experience like this that resonates so profoundly. But the reason I apreciate it so much is that it allows me to make better choices and helps me find the right circumstances to align myself with.
Maybe this is not a thing to you, but I just want to reiterate: "It's okay to be different". We're not designed to exist in a barrel of monkeys... And if you do feel the need to be the same as everyone else, chances are, you'll only end up feeling half-mauled by the experience (much like you've had a run in with a teething toddler).