You are a young teenager. One day you start spending an inordinate amount of time in front of the mirror. Your self-consciousness has just graduated. You go from mere awkwardness to a dynamic preoccupation with ‘looking good’. Very important to attract. Caught up in ubiquitous human vanity, you rarely ask why. Throughout your life you will be assailed with self-image thoughts. A nice appearance is essential. Attract a mate. Be accepted. Garner respect. Oh what you go through for the sake of what others think of you … even though they may think of you little or not at all!
Are you the YOU whom the world ‘sees’? Do you keep hidden most of your thoughts and feelings? To be accommodating? To be well thought of? Are you more honest and open with those close to you? Probably. But there will always be a conflict within: How forthcoming should you be? With your motivations, emotions and frustrations.
Your protective ego prods you: Think highly of yourself. You are important. You have worth. You deserve respect. Nothing wrong with a little self-praise. Keeps you persevering. Life’s challenges can be daunting. You need self-confidence.
But your tendency to be self-centered should be tempered with an informed awareness of who and what you are: a unique being with an astounding brain, formidable physical mechanisms and numerous spiritual abilities that set you apart from all else in nature. You can love and experience joy. The beauty and marvels of the universe are there for your enjoyment and edification. You constantly create both for practical and aesthetic reasons.
And though you are ‘alone’ in your pursuits, you are constantly experiencing life alongside beings much like yourself. They have the same ‘gifts’, the same drives and goals: to love and be loved. You should respect all others. They have been created for a purpose as have you. Becoming a more loving individual requires sharing. For without this, caring is not possible. So you integrate your life with others. Your mind is always ‘open’ and receptive to their needs. Your ‘heart’ is constantly reaching out. Your spirit is growing; your ‘aloneness’ gradually disappearing.
When you ignore this essential sharing and delude yourself into thinking you are the center of the universe, the only ONE with true worth, i.e. beauty, wealth, status, you are succumbing to insidious vanity. Shallowness and superficiality are hallmarks of those who build a wall around themselves and alienate others. With pride nurturing an inflated ego you live your life as if your body, your mind is all that matters. No wonder you become obsessed with image. It is all that is important when you become totally immersed in YOU.
Only when you abandon self-obsession and care for others, truly care, do you begin to realize the potential that is YOU. Why worry about a ‘world’ that is oblivious to this striving YOU? Why overburden yourself with appearances? Why squander energy in a preoccupation with transient edifices? All will pass quickly away save for the YOU that exists beyond time. Attend to what matters now: your growth through loving.