Keeping Your Eyes on Your Own Paper

In high school, I had an evil teacher who once played a prank during a test. In the middle of the test, as the teacher walked up and down the aisles, she approached my desk and scooped up my paper. As I watched in horror - I was an A student - and listened to the sound of ripping paper, I couldn’t help but think about what my classmates were thinking. “Oh no,” I thought, “They think I am cheating!”

A few minutes later, she returned the exam – intact – to my desk. “Just kidding,” she said, holding in her other hand two torn sheets of paper. I immediately told her I didn’t think her twisted way of demonstrating her thought of cheating was funny … and then I smiled because the class knew I didn’t cheat.

In school, the consequences of cheating was an "F" and a meeting with the principal, or worse, the assistant principal, who LIVED for the likes of cheaters, slackers and all around troublemakers. I didn’t know many cheaters then and can’t think of anyone in my life today that I’d consider a cheater in the traditional sense.

Yet, in many ways, all of us are guilty at some point in cheating ourselves. I remember hearing that in school, but it wasn’t until I’d grown up that I realized what they were talking about. For example, in these days of haves, have-nots, and those in-between, we occasionally forget to keep our eyes on our own paper.  Instead of focusing on what we have, we look around and notice what others have, forgetting about our own good fortune.

Our tendency to pay attention to what other people are doing and what they have goes even deeper. If you don’t keep your eyes on your own paper, you risk losing a piece of yourself.

When we keep your eyes on our own paper, we live much closer to truth. We may not have heard the words authentic or self-acceptance when we were young, but in many ways, that is what was and still is at stake.

Accepting who you are can be as simple as refraining from asking others what they think. Also, if you keep your eyes on your own paper, you’re less likely to lose your focus. This is especially important if you are trying something new, working on your dreams, or shifting directions.

When you make the decision to look at your own paper – your own life and the way you think about it – you do something courageous … you dare to be yourself.

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.