My mother is an artist. She has dabbled in different mediums over the years, but always settles back to oil on canvas. Over the years I’ve watched her start with a white canvas and create beautiful pieces. The different processes that she uses to create are captivating. Sometimes she works with the paint using a wet-on-wet technique, other times she waits patiently for each layer to dry. It can be days or weeks between layers in order for her to obtain the desired effect. Each completed painting turns out splendid. (Yes, I just wanted to use a word that I remember from my childhood – brings to mind Mary Poppins and the chalk painting scene.)

My mom, she makes mistakes. Sometimes, I can see the mix-up, other times not. Either way she works diligently to remove the imperfection. Sometimes it is a color correction; sometimes the objects’ shape gets skewed. I’ve even seen her take a canvas, scrape all the paint off, cover it with black gesso and shelve it for another day, until she’s ready to bring it back to life. Then, there are canvases that don’t make it. After weeks of painting and rework, she gives up and throws the canvas away.

I think that we are much the same, like a canvas. We start out seemingly blank and through time, life experiences layer us up. Some good stuff, some bad. Some layers we work to remove or thin out, others we try to beef up to provide a greater sense of security. This is “The Picture We Paint” of our self. How people see that picture. What it is that we want people to see.

Just last night a new friend of mine, photography his passion, asked me what I was hiding. This question frustrates me to no end. He said I was hiding behind the words on my written page. Personally, I think that I’m as transparent as the finest lace… really; you should see me in the winter. I get what he was saying though. When he asked, I answered “Why do people ask that?” I then dropped my shoulders, because yet again I’ve been found out.

In the past, from a visual standpoint, I’ve purposefully downplayed outward expressions of my beauty. I’ve chosen to be as “fly on the wall” as possible, only displaying all that I am when everyone else was “on point”, like at a special event. It didn’t work perfectly, but as a young lady I would grimace at the possible backlash if I were to just be. I would see ladies in pretty outfits only to think, “Hmm… (picturing myself in it, smiling). No, it would bring too much attention.” I so wanted to just “be”, but between the race questions and the beauty comments, my need to fade to black won out. Through all my efforts, I still received comments like “Don’t worry about her; she’s just a pretty face”, “Humph, that’s just a wig”, “She thinks she’s too good”. The last one was from a dude, no less. So, why do I hide? Simple – due to my layering.

For me, this has been a place of growth for a while now. I’ve always fought to declare my intelligence over my appearance. I’ve used everything in my power to discount my beauty and over-compensate with intellect. You want to piss me off? You want to pull at the insecurities from my childhood? Challenge my intelligence. I held no value in beauty or appearance. I’m still trying to determine my level of comfort with it all. I’m working to find that balance within myself.

I take cues from our society to an extent. Every day I sign onto the internet to see beautiful women display themselves. I’m not talking about the media advertisements. I speak of the women who choose to display their beauty on personal and professional profiles. When I hear of the personal attacks that they receive from friends, family and strangers, I can feel their pain. It’s the same pain that I have hid from for so long. I get it. Other times when I’m feeling a little more judgmental, I think, “Well, what do you expect when you display all of yourself for the masses to see? It’s no wonder they have that perception of you.” Then, I put myself in their shoes to see that their comfort level may start and end at a different place than mine. They, like myself, may be adjusting things to find balance.

A girlfriend of mine coined the phrase “move around.” At least she introduced me to the concept. As I started being more comfortable in my skin, I adopted this phrase. It works in so many situations, but relevant to our conversation now, I held no apologies for my beauty, copping the mentality, “If you don’t like it, then just move around.” Yeah, I know it’s a little egotistical, but sometimes we swing left, then right, to settle comfortably in the middle. I don’t want to be a pendulum to life.

So, how do we find a balance that fits our nature and those who we want to accept us? I concluded that it’s impossible. If we throw out strangers, since it should be relatively easy to shrug off emotional injury from strangers, and concentrate on friends and family, it’s still without solution. The possibilities are endless. We are all dynamic evolving human beings and our comfort levels will change with time. Our life experiences continue to shape and mold us.

We are just like the painting that the artist paints. There are times when we need and should pray for the wet-on-wet technique – in hopes that Our Creator will grab His palette knife and scrape the layers away easily without pain. When the devil is busy at play as we stand on our principles, we should thank God for each dry layer. Thankfully, He took the time to allow each layer to harden before applying our next color. Then, there are times when these layers have hardened not because of God’s patience, but due to our stubbornness. It’s these times when we feel the pain of life, but unlike the painters attempt to create the perfect picture, there is never a time when God throws away His canvas.

Understand as you navigate through your life how it impacts others. Your body language, your comments, your actions have an effect – everyone is operating from their own canvas. God gives us choice. Choose the higher ground.

Author's Bio: 

What do you want to know about Primary Thoughts? There is too much to tell, but this is a good spot to start “From My Father’s Knee“, other than that click a title that peaks your interest and read. :)

I can say this… PrimaryThoughts.net is a blog about thoughts on life and relationships. The name? It’s simple. Primary [prahy-mer-ee] – the simple constituents of which something complex is made up; that which is fundamental. Thoughts [thawts] – the product of mental activity; intention, design or purpose. I share myself through life-filled stories and simple ideas combined with whimsy, psychology and spirituality. I hope to spark those #ptinc moments for my readers, those “ah-ha” moments. Come check it out, I’m just a small town girl from Oklahoma. Because I seek, I soar… therefore, I am.