Painting Your Portrait, Flaws and All

So I started coming up with reasons not to date a philosophy major. I was, of course, pointing out the issues I have with getting too involved with both intellectual and nonintellectual concerns. However, the list started getting a little off the point, so I may include it here, but it’s not the point. For now, I’ll just see where this entry takes me…

The point is that it’s hard to be extremely open and communicative without entering into conflict. No, I know: conflict isn’t so bad–it’s how one deals with conflict that’s at issue; any psychologist will tell you that. But it’s still not easy.

I’m not worried about things on the large scale, but it’s impossible not to question who you are and whether things should affect you the way they do. And then, when you realize it’s your own fault, it’s not as remarkably consoling as you’d like it to be. If these sorts of faults only surface from the intensity that accompanies relationships, then you have two choices: you can either accept that the flaws are part of you and hope that your significant other is sympathetic to your weaknesses, or you can let go of the relationship and push the flaws under the cover once again. There is a caveat to the cynicism in the latter choice: perhaps the flaws won’t surface with someone else.

That caveat doesn’t apply to me. I know my weaknesses. I make mistakes, and frequently, but they’re not new. They’re part of who I am.

Nonetheless, I think it’s impossible to avoid this sort of difficult introspection (at least for me). If you’re a flawed person would you rather face your weaknesses and deal with them or walk away, never to have to face them? The way I worded it, the answer sounds obvious, but it takes a lot of strength over a lot of time to effectively confront your flaws…all the while recognizing that they may not go away.

So I guess the solution is to do the best you can for those who you love and hope that they will accept your weaknesses. It’s a difficult thing to ask for, and likewise it will not always be granted.

I guess I’m lucky. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make flaws go away. Perhaps nothing does. And it’s so hard to watch as they resurface, showing a portrait of you that’s not fit for picture frames.

John Mayer almost captures it:

Suppose I said
Colors change for no good reason
And words will go
From poetry to prose

Would you want me when I’m not myself?
Wait it out while I am someone else?

He’s right: things change without good reason. But what he’s wrong about is that he’s ever “someone else.” One cannot escape their identity; one can only hope to put their best side forward (most of the time).

And that is the good thing that can come from relationships. It’s not about avoiding flaws, it’s about painting a self-portrait and then living your life on that canvas. If you spend a long enough time you’ll get to fill it in with all the pretty colors. Attention to detail will make the portrait more realistic, but also more difficult to paint.

So if you’re questioning who you are in your relationship, look at your portrait. How detailed is it? Are you happy with what you see? There’s nothing wrong with needing a little paint. Even a lot might be necessary, at times. But be careful, you’re not the only one looking at it.


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