Yeah, you. Go, look in the mirror, and tell us what you see. Don't tell us what you wish you saw or what you wish you didn't see. Pretend that's a friend looking back at you, instead of your own reflection. Wouldn't you tell a friend what you like about them? Well, of course, you would if you thought about it. So, make sure you treat yourself as kindly as you would a friend. Go on. Go look again. What do you see? Me, I look at this picture and see my sister and brother, blueblueblue eyes, shining streaks of gray, and lotsa freckles.
I also see things I wish I didn't see, but hey, that's a big part of the reason I'm writing this blog post about looking in the mirror. After snapping and deleting at least one dozen photos of my new short haircut, I felt fairly vain, particularly silly, and definitely warped by my expectations of other people's expectations. You know, as well as I know, that this picture captured a single moment that I found acceptable when I looked at it. The question is, why were all the others so unacceptable to me? I looked like that and that and that at those moments, so why weren't they suitable? Crazy, right? Right.
I'm not doing that to myself any more if I can help it. Of course, there will be pictures and reflections that make me cringe. That's life. But I don't have to mentally beat myself with the ugly stick every time, do I? No, I don't. It's ridiculous to frown at a reflection that obviously slept too few hours, as well as with her face crammed into a wedge on top of the pillow for those short hours. So, what if I look older every time I wake up? Does that make me any less happy about still being on the planet? Sometimes it does, but it sure as hell shouldn't! I'm not a girly girl. I take pride in having earned those gray hairs, take satisfaction in knowing those crinkles around my eyes have come with time. So, why in the world do I ever need to experience another truly unhappy moment when I look in the mirror? Oh, there can be moments of dissatisfaction, moments of annoyance, moments of regret, but they should only be moments... not big enough to undermine my self-confidence, not traceable enough to shake my self-image. I am who I am. That "am" ain't a supermodel, doesn't have legs that can be shown in shorts, needs to exercise and make her body stronger, but she's okay. Your "am" is okay, too, and don't you forget it!
Have you ever compared yourself to others and found yourself lacking? Don't do it again. Whatever her name is, she is not perfect. Chances are, she is comparing herself to someone else at the same time you are disparaging yourself for not being like her. Is either of you any better off for having those feelings of inadequacy? Nope.
For a great deal of my adult life, I lived in the shadow of a fabulously pretty woman who'd been the girlfriend of my ex and then of my husband. Um, yeah. That was an interesting twist in all our lives. What sucks about it, though, is that I didn't yet have this "I am who I am" knowledge. You wouldn't believe how many times I felt overwhelmed by my imagined importance of someone else's memory of someone who was no longer an intimate part of their lives... sheesh, I can't even reread that sentence without rolling my eyes, let alone understand how I could have let my brain do that to me for so many years! Pfffffft. She was beautiful. What did that really have to do with my life? I thought I caught a glimpse of her in another aisle of a store one day not long ago. I think the "pfffffft... so effing what" and the simultaneous shoulder shrug that I did at that moment says a lot about the change in my level of self-comfort as the years have passed. Good luck and best wishes to her. May she be as comfortable in her own skin as I am becoming. A few years ago, I'll admit that I would have wished to bless her with a few extra wrinkles for good measure, but you know what? Now, I just want every one of us to be happy with ourselves and show one another kindness when we can.
Once you come to this point, you realize it's your duty to try to spread the wisdom, share the knowledge, impart a little loving kindness to those who haven't yet seen the light. Time is key here. No one can rush time, and no one can make experience accumulate more quickly for themselves or anyone else... but if reading about the light sheds a little bit of it upon someone and brings her closer to being able to see it, then I'll write this as often as possible, in as many ways as possible :)