Why Our Mirrors are Rose-Colored

Recently, I was on an online dating site and I saw the female equivalent of me. Or at least it was the female equivalent of me a few years ago — but to an accentuated extreme.

She listed on her profile “I don’t have a job. I live with my parents. I dropped out of college. I’m depressed. I play lots of League of Legends. I don’t respond to 90% of the messages. I’m surprised you would even want to message me after seeing my self-deprecating profile.”

Seeing this really shocked me on a deep level for a couple reasons.

First, how the heck does she still get messages? She is literally listing out her worst qualities and reasons not to message her. And damn good ones too! She literally did the worst thing she could. Yet her profile implies she still gets quite a lot of messages. And she wasn’t even that pretty. I guess girls really do have it easier in online dating due to greater demand and lower supply.

Second, it was kind of like staring through a mirror at my past. This was the Asian female version of me. It was chilling because I didn’t think such a person existed (at least not in abundance). Not many people played the video games I did or went through the stuff I did. I didn’t list out her whole profile, but there were even more stuff that was right in alignment with how my life went.

Of course, there were subtle differences between her and I. I would never have been stupid enough to create a dating profile that was nothing more than an essay of my worst qualities. Talk about bad salesmanship.

And I didn’t fail out of school. Nonetheless, the core theme was still there. It was jarring. If you had shown this to me a few years ago, would I have admitted that this was the female version of me?

Probably not. Like many people, our mirrors are rose-tinted. Our own ego and biases cloud reality. For me, I definitely was arrogant and self-absorbed enough when I was younger to believe that I deserved higher quality girls despite how crappy I was doing in quite a few areas of my life. I also had the audacity to blame everyone and everything but myself.

This toxic mentality is common, and having experienced it in others and myself, I know it can take almost a Herculean effort for someone to see the truth and change. It almost has to come internally from their own motivation or dissatisfaction with how life is.

Why do I have these warped biases? Why are we such big hypocrites? Why is life tough sometimes? The answer lies in evolution. We’re genetically wired to fail to see the same faults we quickly identify in others. It’s been scientifically measured that we suck at this. The conclusive reasons why are still being ironed out but scientists believe it has to do with the fact that a biased ego served our ancestors well in surviving in the past (but maybe not in modern civilization).

If you’re thinking that this female version of me was a wake-up call, you’re a couple years late. Since then, I’ve gone through great lengths to adopt many new hobbies (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Salsa, Hip Hop, Crossfit, Bocce, Beach Volleyball, etc.), I’ve pushed myself to go to many social events outside of my comfort zone, and I’ve invested heavily in fitness and muscle gain. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Have I become the next Bruce Lee? Far from it. I’ve come a long way but I have a long way to go before I’m socially confident, super interesting, and jacked. But seeing the dating profile was a swift reminder to stay humble with my expectations, keep working towards what I want, and keep working on making myself a better person.

Honestly, I sometimes feel like I’ve gone through hell to improve my dating life. I’ve had to push through many psychological, physical, and financial obstacles. And there will be a lot more of these obstacles to come. But looking back, I’ve become so much of a better, more interesting person. Also, I’ve become better at what I do, my life is more fun, I’m more financially successful, I’m more fashionable and attractive, and blah, blah, blah.

It’s far from a fairy tale ending. I’m still average or slightly-above-average in all categories. Maybe even still below average if I’m hard on myself. But from where I started (the shy Asian computer-gaming nerd with no grooming or fashion sense) to where I am now, I’m so proud of how I’ve been trending. It’s so important to stop yourself from time to time and look back to the distant past to see your progress or you’ll get burned out and frustrated with the day-to-day slow progress.