Have you ever had a secret that was just too painful to share? I just know there’s someone out there who could understand me if I could just get over myself. Just stop stopping every time I start to address it directly. Fear is cruel that way. It gets in and feigns ultimate power and you believe it. But its all a charade. Any power fear has is usurped and misappropriated from its host. That power you feel being exerted on you, to apply the old horror movie trope, is coming from inside the house. Your house. You. The power is all yours and you have to claim it. As soon as you do fear will flee like the coward it is.
Here is my proclamation.
I am afflicted with the misplaced confidence of the formerly beautiful.
It may not be recognized in the DSM and their is likely not a ton of literature about this dreadful disorder, but for those few of us suffering from it none of that makes it any less real. It doesn’t make it any less painful.
It’s a pitiable reality I live day to day. One I don’t wish on my most attractive enemies. Every night I’m tortured by my reflection, reminding me that those looks I’ve gotten, those looks I’ve come to rely on for my sense of self, from attractive young women, those looks are no longer intended the way I still, sadly, receive them in the moment. All day I’ve stolen glances of others checking me out. Now, when I see what greets there eye in the world of funhouse mirrors I now live in I am left little room for doubt that one of two things has happened. One, they are looking on me as an oddity here in these places of the young and beautiful I somehow still think I’m rightly placed in. Or, two, horrifyingly, they are not in fact looking at me, but rather ‘keeping an eye on me’ the old, thick, greying gentlemen who clearly doesn’t belong.
Well I have news for you. Many of you will be me someday. Laugh. Go ahead, young beauties, but mark my words, beauty fades. Even on us, the most beautiful. You can only outrun it for a decade or two. Your number will come up some day. And when it does I hope you remember the way you look at me and judge me. I’m you, my friends. I’m you.
I too was able to claim a total and truthful lack of ‘game’ when it came to meeting the people I was attracted to. I was afforded all the free space on the high road. My best move was letting slip to a friend that I thought someone was cute. This actually led to nearly every relationship I initiated in my dating days. The other 90% were someone telling me that some other, similarly afflicted gorgeous person was interested in me. I never questioned. Of course they were. Then I’d decide if I was. If I was we’d date. For as long as I was into it. I assumed it was like this for everyone.
I was raised by humble and handsome people who didn’t burden me with the knowledge of the appeal of my strong jaw line, piercing blue eyes, broad shoulders, alabaster skin and buttery smooth baritone. I was 6’2″ and athletic on top of it. Lacking arrogance, I emerged in the world upon reaching majority a fully formed, devilishly handsome man free from the awareness of my native advantages over the average person. I assumed all people had yet to feel the bitter sting of rejection. Thinking it not at all unusual that someone might greet anyone with a sharp intake of breath followed by spitting out a phrase like, ‘Wow. You’re really good looking!’ Didn’t matter where I was. Interviews and church and other formal settings. I just assumed this was a common courtesy between strangers raised with manners and good hearts. I assumed everyone would have to hold their bosses at arms length. Out of respect for their dignity. I mean how silly would they have looked being rejected by subordinates. I always assumed my promotions were the same promotions anyone else would have received having dutifully arrived to work on time, answered most messages and was always available to smile and make small talk. These are the essential duties of handsome/good looking people after all.
But now, now I’m a fool. I still assume the never ending upward trajectory to continue despite having long ago settled into the middle. Thank god I met my gorgeous wife before my looks were so diminished. I managed to convince her, a fellow and currently gorgeous human, to marry me and quick. Before the fall of Rome as it were.
After a lifetime of the world and its inhabitants falling at my feet to help me over any and all challenges I didn’t even realize that I am completely lacking the skills needed for someone in my current, hideous form. Thank god I managed to attend and graduate college while I still was on the path of least resistance, which is every path for the beautiful among us. At least I have a degree to fall back on.
But today, today is my day to take back my life, to swallow my humiliation and face the world. I’m thicker then I was and my profile in particular is to be avoided. My once prominent jawline is doughy. My broad shoulders have slumped and my skin is, well, problematic. But that is not going to stop me from being proud of myself. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m going to eat better and care for myself more attentively. I’m going to run and use the elliptical and I’m going to do all the things everyone else has had to do forever just to keep up with me.
I may never be beautiful again. Lord knows I’ll never be as stunning as I once was. But who knows. I’m to understand that men like myself can still get quite a bit from life if we can make it to ‘distinguished’, so there’s still hope.