In my teenage and young adult years, I was a mirror checker. I checked, not because I thought I was beautiful, but because I was worried about what others were seeing. I was seeking perfection. If I caught a reflective glimpse in a glass window or in the car’s rearview mirror, I had to check. Was my hair out of place? Was my makeup OK? Did I need some lipgloss? Did I hide that zit well enough?
I was insecure with how I looked and even more with who I was. I wanted to fit in. To be one of the beautiful, popular girls. I wanted to be wanted. I’m not sure why I was so insecure. My parents were wonderfully nurturing, supportive and loving. There are two things that I figure factored in pretty strongly. First, we moved many times throughout my childhood, which resulted in me usually being the “outsider” who didn’t fit in. Kids find anything to pick on other kids about, and when you’re the outsider, you frequently become the target. I remember many comments like “four eyes, buck teeth, brace face, ugly girl,” etc. Pair that with being a preacher’s kid who is constantly reminded and aware that others are watching her and making judgments, and you might just end up with a big heap o’ insecurity.
HOW it developed is not so important really. The point I’m trying to make is that I became a mirror checker. Constantly assessing my appearance and trying to look a little better. Worrying about how I looked to all those people watching me. Wanting to fit in.
In one of my moments of clarity on my recent trip to Atlanta, I realized that a shift has taken place since I became a mother. It hit me when I came out of the restroom at an airport and sat down to wait. I wondered if I had crumbs on my face and realized that I hadn’t checked the mirror when I was in the bathroom. I thought about it, and realized that I rarely check anymore. Me. The same woman who used to religiously check in any reflective surface.
I’m not talking about NEVER looking in a mirror. I still mirror-gaze during my normal morning (OK… sometimes noonish) routine to do my hair, apply makeup and all the other self-care things that require a mirror. It’s not that I’ve “let myself go.” It’s something different.
It’s a shift in my perspective. A new peace within myself. I’m OK with who I am. I don’t need to check reflections to see what others are seeing. I have a new mirror. Her name is Jenna. What matters to me now is how she sees me, and what I want her to see most is what’s on the INSIDE. I’m focused more on values and morals, and much, MUCH less on outward appearances. It also helps that she could care less if I even have makeup on or if my hair is done. A huge zit equals concern for my “boo-boo,” but no judgment of any sort. Baggy sweat pants and a faded t-shirt don’t result in raised eyebrows or concern about my hygiene from her. She loves me for who I am. Unconditionally. She attends to internal qualities like kindness, patience, humor, gentleness, and love. The things I want to focus more on. She makes me want to BE a better person, not just to look like one.
So, if you see me on the street in clothes that are a little “last year” (or last decade), my hair is out of place, my lipstick is worn off, and my shoes are a little “clunky,” raise your eyebrows if you must. It’s OK with me. I’ve got a new mirror.