How has your appearance affected you life?
No Complaints Here – Just another example of “Living The Learning“.
We are all under tremendous pressure to be accepted, when we are young we care so much about it. The Good news is that as we age we tend to care less.
My story – this is being told in hindsight and with a belated understanding of myself and others. I was always a good athlete. Good at everything but I hated the attention and was considered shy. Men were supposed to be extroverted and strong and that was just the way it was and if you weren’t you were pushed to change yourself.
I now know I am an introvert and highly sensitive. My body reacts differently to situations than others. Hyper-arousal is real and affects 20% of the population. many situations that people love are traumatic for highly sensitive people. But when I was young that was not widely known if at all. Many of my generation suffer from PTSD from ignorance of their personality types when they were young. Que sera sera. Normal Extravert society is just too much for many introverted types.
Anyway, to cut a long story short. I unknowingly at the time developed a big muscular coat of armour as my protection, without knowing why I was so single minded in this pursuit.
It is funny though because I never really changed inside always feeling vulnerable and sensitive in raucous or volatile situations.
I also went through a large period of my life drinking too much to cope with the expectations of my social life. I now love to be in reading and chatting or writing. I love walking in nature with my 5 dogs and would rather see nobody than be in busy places. I may even be considered mildly misanthropic.
That is my nature and what I have battled the whole of my life without being fully aware. We all experience something different called life and this for me was how I considered it was for everyone. I now know each of us experiences life from our unique perspectives and we may find those that are similar but there also those that are totally different, almost alien.
I am empathetic and very intuitive to the extreme. Talents of the highly sensitive with introverted tendencies. I would say more than tendencies although I can speak in public very well it does wear me to a frazzle. I energise by being quiet and alone. Extroverts energise by being out in the world with lots of people. I am married to an extrovert and we complement each other perfectly. It is easier to understand the difference when you live with it. And we both introduce the other to our opposites. However, the coping strategies I have embodied over the years make it very difficult for others to gauge my introverted nature. And Julie can be quiet when we meet others – we seem to swap roles under pressure.
My appearance does not fit my personality at all. But was developed to be something I felt I needed to be to play the game we like to call normal life in a generation where working class men were expected to be macho, insensitive and strong physically. Emotion and sensitivity were thought to be womanly attributes and a weakness for a man. My Fathers role which he took very seriously was to make sure he toughened me up. Now it is understood that emotional intelligence is a prized asset rather than a liability. Everything changes – constantly.
Now I love my appearance and it has given me good health as a side effect. And a shared pursuit for Julie and me that has been good for over 35 years. The saying “train together stay together” seems to ring true for us. Did it protect me? I think it did most of the time, but it also attracted its fair share of unwanted female attention (the opposite sex situations can be traumatic for sensitives, no one night stands, too much anxiety) and Neanderthal male challengers, that equated it with violence and wanted to prove themselves. Pathetic!
My change of physique got me the same sexual attention, maybe more than normal plus some aggressive jealous challenges thrown into the mix. I know others will think I am complaining about a situation that many would die for but the pressures for me were just far too stressful.
The situation is made worse by depictions of sexuality in the media. And human beings are aroused by certain body-parts particularly when they take on fantasy proportions. The issue is can the personality (the person inside the body) handle the body. In my case, the answer was NO! But is now yes and has led to an unbelievable life and thirst for knowledge to understand what is going on in our minds and in the minds of others. We are an amazingly complicated species. I have grown into my body. My character can now live with my appearance. But it has taken the best part of 60 years to get here. And lots of mistakes along the way.
In trying to avoid conflict and protect my self with muscles in reality I encouraged more attention. It is funny if you think about it. There are always consequences to our actions. In my case, they are very good now but at the time it was not a great move to become a 20-stone specimen to avoid attention. What was I thinking? If I wanted to hide away I shouldn’t have made myself stick out like a sore thumb. A little boy in the body of a man. When someone says muscles don’t make a man. They are totally correct. At times they are hiding a developing personality by thinking there is a short cut (muscles) to character development. There are no short cuts.
My personality has grown into my body and now I see young guys that are on the same journey of not being mature enough to handle the responsibility of a huge muscular body. Instead, they do use it as a tool for their manly status and place in the herd. It can be a risky business similar to letting a 10-year-old drive a sports car. The power can be intoxicating and goes to one’s head but it can only end in disaster and some tough learning experiences.
shaping my body has given me an education on all things physical and probably protected me more than not. Although my writing, speaking, coaching and philosophical meanderings always surprise people as big muscular guys are still expected to be DUMB ASSES! We love to label others. Wrongly most of the time. But I can’t complain about that label as it was me that was using it to hide behind.
As we age we begin to understand the lives we have lived and why we behaved the way we did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. One thing I would say to young people is that when we think everybody is looking at us, some may be complementary and often others are too worried about their own stuff going on to care too much about us. We just imagine they do. And we often become more by maturing into our physical appearances. Developing strong personalities through adversity is often the way it happens.
To get better – my advice is to build your character before you build your body or at least at the same time. A strong character is worth more than a strong body but both together can be priceless. They need not be mutually exclusive. Never lose yourself in your appearance – An appearance is just a collection of masks that we wear for special occasions and can often work against us. Sooner or later we are revealed to those that matter and when the time comes what is under the mask is all that counts.Gary
Sorry about the pictures of me but it seemed relevant to this blog. – Good luck to you and thank you.
Gary Walsh x