I’ve just finished watching another two episodes of Flash season 1 (I’m late, I know). I appreciate the level of maturity and, well, heroism that we don’t see in even superhero shows and movies nowadays.

Just a few minutes ago we made ready for bed when my grandmother called my mother. My grandmother is on vacation. She saw a video or photo of me at a show we attended last night. She said her two sisters (who haven’t seen me in years) think I am very handsome. My grandmother does too. They especially like my hair.

It’s kinda funny. Kinda irritating. If I can pride myself on one thing it is to know how I really am. I know no person can ever truly know himself. There is always some aspect that you cannot see, whether it be good or bad. Let me put it bluntly: I am not handsome. I am alright with a photo of myself, sometimes. I hate seeing videos.

I was born with a cleft lip and palate. This has left me with some orthodontic issues and, the most irritating thing of my life, a speech impediment. I used to think that I would be fine if I had one of the two: if I can either speak clearly or look handsome. If I could just have one, I would happily live with the other. For a while I thought I could achieve that. But I haven’t and I do not think I ever will.

In fact, let me tell a another short story. I’ll keep it short. There’s this Christian book store that I like to go to close to my home. I had to pay for parking, but the machine won’t take large notes. So I thought I’d buy myself a bookmark at that bookstore just to get change. At the counter I was helped by a pretty girl. I remember daydreaming afterwards of how I should go and buy something else this week just so I can maybe see her. But as I was thinking about this I reflected on my self esteem. As I’ve concluded many times, I don’t have one. Like I have no qualms being with friends or talking to girls when I have to (for work or whatever). But when it comes to relationships, to asking someone on a date, to do stuff like that, I know there’s no hope. It might be cognitive dissonance speaking, but at the same time I know there is hope. To paraphrase Dostoevsky, a man cannot have these two ideas and keep living.

I am always keenly aware of those very old photos and videos of myself. I am aware of how I sound (I am putting this very lightly). I am aware of how I look. How that one tooth usually shows because my lip doesn’t quite hide it when I’m not concentrating.

If you have similar issues, whether it be some physical aspect that you can’t change, or perhaps some personal thing, you know what I mean when I say that I know I am not handsome. Your family will disagree with you. In your heart you know they are wrong. You don’t think they are lying. They have known you for decades and they’ve grown used to you. So in their eyes you really are attractive. But you know that’s not the case for the rest of the world. So you just smile, take the compliment, and ignore it.

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