Monday, 14 September 2009

Frames of Reference

I don't envision myself as a girly girl. I'm not completely unaware of things like clothes and hairstyles, but I own less make-up that some of my friends who own "hardly any" make-up. Sometimes, though, that perception of myself is challenged, especially, I think, given my family.

Today I bought a dress. There are two problems with that. The first is bought. The second is dress. In relation to the entire world, there's nothing remarkable about either of those. In relation to my family, there is. I'm the only person in my family that will voluntarily go clothes shopping ('I don't own anything that fits' is not voluntary), and the only one who voluntarily wears skirts. Buying a dress -- when I didn't really need one, but it was pretty and cheap -- is almost off-the-charts girliness.

Before I began redefining how I thought about myself, I changed my frame of reference. Outside of my immediate family, I don't think there's anything remarkable about going dress shopping. In that frame of reference, I fall somewhere around the middle of the chart, which I'm entirely happy with. The trick is to figure out which frame of reference is appropriate.

Some things - like shopping - I can measure by the world's standards. Other things - like the language I use - I'd rather not. Whether I look at my family's standards, my church's standards, or just my own standards, the rules I'm following for certain things are different to what most of the world is following.

ON one hand, I don't think I should be comparing my actions. Right and wrong are not comparative; for everything else, it doesn't matter. On the other hand, I know I'm going to keep looking for a reference point. While ideally I shouldn't be looking for that in the people I know, practically, I think it's better just to be aware of my frame of reference.

If I can persuade myself not to use inappropriate frames of reference, maybe I'll be able to get to the stage where I don't use them. For now, I'll just accept that I'm not the girliest of the girly girls.

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