More handsome in real life

San Francisco, California, USA.

I was wandering around through my hotel a bit. I knew I wanted to write something but didn’t really know where to start. Then I saw the cute girl from reception that I chatted with this morning. I had told her a little bit about my work and showed my website. When she looked at my picture she told me I looked different. Now I don’t know what you think but I think ‘different’ is not a very positive word. When you just had an expensive haircut you don’t want somebody to say: “your hair looks.. eh.. different”

I assumed that the photo on my website was showing a better version of me and that my appearance in ‘real life’ was disappointing to her. Maybe it was because I was wearing a sun faded tank top this morning and a blue-checkered shirt on my website. Maybe I looked more mature and wise when I was wearing my blue-checkered shirt. Maybe I looked like a scruffy, middle of the road backpacker this morning.

Since it is kind of chilly today in San Francisco and I have been wearing my new white long sleeve shirt the past couple of days (that looks like a normal shirt but is completely jungle proof with built-in mosquito repellant: yay!) I decided to wear my blue shirt today. And to reassure the pretty girl at reception that I am not always ugly, scruffy and mediocre I peeked around the corner and casually showed her that I actually had brought the shirt that I was wearing in the picture with me. I wanted to proof her that I could be that guy in the picture.

But to my disappointment she said again that I looked different. And she looked away, like she was shy to tell me the truth in my face. Then she confessed: ‘you look more handsome when you stand in front of me’.

The knot in my stomach transformed a feeling of joy in milliseconds, the sweetness of relief spreading through my whole body. It is hilarious what a bit of approval can do. Immediately I started to feel inspired and energized and I was ready to sit down and write.

When I walk through the streets of San Francisco I am continuously giving money to homeless people. There are 2 reasons for that: firstly, there are a lot of homeless people living in a selfish country and secondly all the coins are smaller then 1 dollar. It is easier to be generous when you know that whatever change is in your pocket is easy to miss. In Europe we have the 1 euro and the 2 euro coin: reaching randomly in your pocket a couple of times per day can become an expensive hobby.

Because every time I give something I give all the change that is in my pocket and not just the coins with little value I feel really generous. In Europe I have to feel in my pocket and pretend to search for coins when I am in reality trying to pick a few small coins. My gift should be a handful of money to suggest generosity but when added up preferably stay around the value of 1 euro. This act is much harder. Which causes me to lie or ignore more often. Here I feel free to have a little chat with them. I feel comfortable to look them in the eye because I emptied my pocket.

I like to be a kind, generous and handsome person. I am constantly keeping doors open, giving compliments and thanking or greeting people. Being good for others makes me feel good about myself. It is more than being selfish: I genuinely love to acknowledge and support the flow of life. Holding a door open is to see the other, thanking the barista is to notice the love she puts in making my coffee. Being aware of the flow that surrounds us, and expressing that awareness by acting in correspondence brings joy to our lives. We express harmony that way (try it!).

It helps when the world seems to confirm what I am trying to communicate and when the conditions are shaped in a way that it becomes easy for my to act the way I like to act.

The interesting part is of course how easy the idea of being ugly, not well groomed and/or mediocre came alive in my mind, based only on the choice of words of one person. And how my relationship with Dutch homeless people is different then in the US because we have different coins in Europe. Attachments to self image and perception are so strong and persistant. The energy we spend on being in agreement with what we think we should be and the energy we lose by keeping ourselves entertained with ideas of being inadequate is amazing.

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  1. Ezel erdogan says

    Dear atalwin; no matter what you wear black or white,you will always be reflecting your light,go and make a bigger wish, you might catch some big time fish:)

  2. says

    Hi Atalwin,

    To me you seem a lot thinner than the moment I saw you last time and that is long time ago. It suits you well. What is more important, it seems to me that you also seem more humble, more open faced than I experienced you in the past. I like the calmth in your eyes. Forgive me this ‘non-filtered’ comment. I hope it’s a compliment to you. Just as I meant it.

    As a world citizen, I envy you a lot. Talking about traveling and meeting all these differnt cultures.

    Sincerely, Rokus!
    Former Team Academy Coach Haarlem

  3. Mam says

    Hé kanjer! Ben benieuwd of je nu ook voor mij een deur zult openhouden als we – ooit – weer eens samen uit eten gaan. xxxxxx

  4. says

    You know I can relate to this… “The energy we spend on being in agreement with what we think we should be and the energy we lose by keeping ourselves entertained with ideas of being inadequate is amazing.” It’s interesting to hear YOU say it though. By the way, I agree with the receptionist, this picture doesn’t do you justice. Just sayin.

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