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Emails to my Therapist

Seeing Myself on Zoom

I hesitate to say this, Nicholas, even to friends, maybe especially to friends, for reasons that will surely be obvious.  But I’m going to say it here and now because for me it’s a little breakthrough that may give me a little more ease in the world. Or a lot more. Here it is: seeing myself on Zoom, I don’t come off as badly as I expected.


My psychologist husband Bob runs, with group members’ agreement, a video camera recording the therapy groups he leads. Participants can look at the tapes later and see themselves interacting with others. I once told him that I’d probably be pretty discomfited by seeing myself in action.

If It’s Hard for Movie Stars…

I mean, some actors won’t watch themselves on the screen and they have the advantage of script, make-up, and lighting.

Bob said maybe I wouldn’t be so uncomfortable.

He was right.

Now I’ve seen myself onscreen talking and listening and, best I can now tell, I’m not the trying-too-hard, overdoing-it dork I’d thought.

Many times I’ve said to Bob as we rode home from a gathering: “Did I talk too much? I did. I talked too much, didn’t I? I know I did.” Like a young self-conscious teenager questioning and doubting herself after the fact.

Well, I think sometimes I do talk too much. I feel a kind of obligation to help “keep the party  going.” Manners, ethics, and social skills were the required courses of my home life as a kid. The social skills didn’t come easily.

“Make It Fun”

Once when I was a teenager, my family took a group tour in which meals were served to tables of four. We were a family of five, which meant that at each meal, one kid ate at another table. I remember brother Harry, then 14, saying he didn’t want to go to another table because it wasn’t fun. Daddy said, “Son, if it’s not fun, you make it fun.” Between making it fun and working summers as a clerk at the family clothing business, I did learn to talk.

Once that ability kicked in, it hasn’t quit.  Sometimes, when I get going, it’s hard to stop. I remember once when you, Nicholas, talked on at length about something, then caught yourself and said to me, “For God’s sake, interrupt me!” Which we both thought was pretty funny.

On the whole, I don’t like to be interrupted. That’s putting it mildly. But sometimes after I’m well into my third interlocking amusing anecdote, it would be fine if, to use a sports analogy, somebody else grabbed the ball and ran with it.

Seeing Myself on Zoom

Anyway, what I discovered seeing myself on Zoom is that I’m pretty much like everybody else, behaving reasonably, not jabbering at all. And, bonus finding: my bad hair days aren’t as bad as I’d imagined.

I never would have predicted that I’d make this delightfully relieving discovery in a pandemic on an internet app at age 71. Certainly it’s inconsequential in the big world picture. But it’s relaxing to me to have noticed.

Before I Get Too Carried Away…

On the other hand, one day in a Skype conversation, I was told that when I leaned back from the camera, I looked “so young.” So young that I “could be 50,” which is hilariously far from  what I think of as young.  So the on-screen experience has its limits in ego-boosting. Still, I’m glad to get this little technological surprise.



#zoomme #zoombie #zoomzoom


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  • Judy Carrino
    September 15, 2020 at 1:31 pm Reply

    I don’t always like what I see when I’m on Zoom….very critical of myself, especially at this age. I DO try not to talk too much – which for those who know me – is laughable. Our book club has been meeting on Zoom for 3 months now. It’s better than nothing, but I long for the days when we could get together and have a meal before the book discussion.

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2020 at 5:21 pm Reply

      I’m not always crazy about what I see either, Judy. But it’s better than I expected and magnitudes better than those times my phone goes into reverse and shows me frowning over the machinery. I think Zoom is relatively kind. I understand about the book club. I wish my writing group could go to “tea” at Whole Foods after our meetings.

  • Andy
    September 15, 2020 at 1:32 pm Reply

    A delightful revelation in this new high tech world. I can count my Zoom interactions on one hand, and not being very self conscious, I was more concerned by my voice than my appearance.

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm Reply

      I’ve kept my Zooming to a minimum too, Andy. Makes these get-togethers more of an occasion. I do think being conscious of your voice counts as self-consciousness, BTW. But how can you tell anything about your voice on Zoom? Are you playing back a recording?

  • September 15, 2020 at 6:24 pm Reply

    Telling the kids “if it’s not fun, Make it fun” is wonderful advise, and you do make many things fun for me. I’m so glad you saw yourself on Zoom as you really are, so now when that anxious uncertainty come up ,you can remind yourself of what you saw & learned. bob

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2020 at 6:40 pm Reply

      What sister-in-law Willa sometimes calls Brother Franc is Captain Fun, which seems to me apt. The advice has had a strong impact. And thanks, Bob.

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