A few weeks back, I pointed out to one of my tennis partners that over in the general area between the courts, there was a guy who looked just like him. Hat, outfit, mustache, hair color. My partner seemed underwhelmed by the comparison. Recently, I saw the gentleman up close and the differences were profound, but at the time, he looked very similar.
Later, the incident bubbled up again (and, as is often the case, also created a blog post) and I considered my friend’s nonchalance about the comparison. Reaching back to similar instances of my own, I realized how far the distance is between how we see ourselves and how others view us.
Making this personal, let me give you a few examples:
A while back, during one of my clean-shaven periods, I had some of my co-workers tell me I had to watch this program on TV because the boss in the show looked just like me. I think the show was “Alias”, which was popular at the time, so that should date the comments. I had little interest in the comparison or the show, but one of my direct reports sent me a link and I saw the guy they said looked “just like me”. He had a balding head, was clean-shaven and wore a tie. I guess that’s me, then.
A few years ago, during one of my bearded periods, I escorted my nieces to a comic book convention. While waiting with them in line to see their favorite voice actor, it was suggested I looked like Steven Spielberg. Now, even though I was wearing a baseball cap, beard and glasses, I don’t look like Steven Spielberg. Feel free to Photoshop a baseball cap on the picture of me on the Author page.
– DIGRESSION –
I don’t know why I was wearing a baseball cap inside the building. I don’t even like baseball caps, though with my receding hair they are imperative on any extended outside activity (nothing worse than a sunburn on top of your head). I can only assume the Gators had done something important recently and I was showing my team spirit.
– END DIGRESSION –
It’s not even flattering to be compared to someone’s looks (okay, I suppose if it’s a supermodel or heart-throb, maybe). If they were comparing my imagination or creativity to Mr. Spielberg, that would be flattering.
Going back decades, I remember being told I looked like John McEnroe. Well, I was a lefty, with a lot of curly hair and a bad temper. That’s about as close as I came to looking like John McEnroe (which is still a universe closer than being able to play like him).
While it’s true people see what they want to see, I think it’s also likely we sometimes don’t see what we aren’t interested in looking for. If multiple people believe you look like someone, it’s possible that you do, even if you don’t see it yourself (though, the power of suggestion often convinces people of a thing without too much thought).
So, when someone says you look just like that person, that just might be the way you look.