Reality Checks

By Lorna Foreman

Sometimes painful, but always necessary

Surely, I am not alone. There must be other people who do not believe that we appear like we do in our photographs. You can laugh now.

When I look into a mirror, I see a slightly older version of the woman that I was when I was 55. Yeah sure, who am I kidding? A reality check is needed here. Down deep, I know I am not that age, but some days it is better to delude myself.

Does that sound slightly unrealistic? It is, really, but some days when I need a bit more confidence, I convince myself that the wrinkles are only a result of my happy nature and all the smiling that has put them there. Do I sound crazy? Am I alone with these thoughts?

Not really. Most of us need a personal check-in every so often, to address things like this and other areas of our lives. Deluding ourselves is relatively common. It protects us when truth is sometimes too painful to admit, and the truth then gets hidden under thousands of layers.

We unconsciously compare ourselves to others daily. We want to look perfect and feel confident, but in our minds, we come out on the losing end, so we convince ourselves that we are attractive and successful — a version of the expression ‘smile and the world smiles with you.’ It is, what you project.

Overuse of credit cards is one of the worst areas where we delude ourselves. We are convinced we are paying it off monthly, when in fact, we are also adding more to the debt.

Yes, it is time to get that tooth fixed before it causes problems and then could cost more.

Yes, it is time to attend to your health and fitness before it becomes a difficult hill to climb and you develop serious issues.

There are many areas of our lives where we occasionally need to do a reality check.

As many readers may have figured out, I am not a fan of social media or advertising, as they misrepresent what lives are about and make us dissatisfied with what we do have. The images that we get inundated with are geared to make us want something that is not of the ‘successful’ people. We want to be happy. But trying to achieve the ‘desired’ images can cripple us emotionally and financially. Who decided that women should be thin? We can’t all look like a Barbie doll nor should we want to. I met two young anorexic women and in speaking with them — despite being skinny —they still feel they are fat. I got myself in a flap last spring because I had gained four pounds. Jeez. That’s silly because my clothes still fit and nobody else could tell. Instead, getting in better shape was the wiser choice.

I always mull over my topic with a friend. First, talking it out give me a chance to think about the approach to the topic. I also get a few new aspects of what I am writing about. Definitely a win-win situation.

One such conversation brought up an area of our lives for which we have the keen ability to trick ourselves — relationships — especially the romantic ones. We can delude ourselves that our romance is perfect and will be just like the Hollywood version. Reality check needed here — because guess what —they aren’t. The expectations are too high and so are the divorce rates. Could it be that arranged marriages have a better chance? After all, they are usually brokered by families of similar backgrounds and similar interests and most importantly, similar expectations. The most serious area is when someone deludes themselves into thinking that their spouse will stop using physical force against them, or that they will quit drinking and stop taking it out on the children. While it is wonderful to fall in love, it is not so wonderful when you realize that you really don’t have a healthy relationship. Relationships are so complex. They need a good basis to work and can still be romantic, but that requires removing the delusional curtain and facing truths.

We are bombarded everywhere by what really isn’t. Fake news is rampant. Sometime back, I wrote about critical thinking — or the lack of it. We need it even more these days — when people can convince themselves that there is no climate change, for instance. A reality check would put the onus on us to live responsibly. That seems to be a problem.

Oh, I know I am on my soap box again, but as I get older, reality has a way of inviting you to check it. I will never be 55 again, so it behooves me to love myself at 80, wrinkles and all.

Lorna Foreman is a self-described 50-plus writer, author and artist who lives in Cornwall.