Seeing the Humans of the World

Here’s a picture of me.

caitie-whelan-photo-by-andrew-propp

It was taken by a wonderful photographer named Andrew in a small alley behind my old apartment in DC.

I think I look pretty confident, surefooted, someone who could have a good answer for a good question.

Now, let me tell you what was going through my mind during that photo: Make this end. My face looks like a melon. Those guys laughing on the balcony over the alley are laughing at this melonface trying to pose like she’s on the cover of The New Yorker or something. Oh, and The New Yorker doesn’t even do cover photos, you big bumbler. Who do you think you are, anyways?

But I don’t see that in the picture. I just see a woman staring into the camera like she belongs, just as she is.

And this picture has been a real gift to me. When beautiful people stride into the subway looking like they own the whole metro, I think about that picture.

When I’m surrounded by the poised and coiffed and coutured in downtown Manhattan, I think about that picture.

When I’m at those parties where everyone looks like they’ve got the world wrapped around their finger, I think about that picture.

And I tell myself with all the kindness possible: Don’t forget what you don’t see. You don’t see the doubt they carry. The regrets or feelings of less-than that pinch at their heart. Put plainly: you don’t see that they’re human, too.

So, here’s to seeing the humans of the world. We bumbling, beautiful humans who belong – though we may forget it – just as we are.

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