Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reflection

I was going through some of my old assignments from my Creative Writing class I took last semester, and I came across the documents from our poetry section. For our first poem, we were told to write about an inanimate object. This is what I wrote:




Checking my reflection in the morning I expect it to be honest about what I look like.
I never question its motives or eye it suspiciously to see if it’s lying.
It has no feelings, no brain, no emotion.
So silently, day after day, it reports my appearance from the back of my bedroom door.

But I can’t help but wonder if the whole truth is being represented.

I know it’s science and all, but
how accurate can a piece of glass be to expressing
the longing I have to become something great?

Can a silver coating show the fire in my eyes
as I tell them to stop picking on the girl who sits alone in the hallway?
Can it catch every sparkle that dances across my pupils
when I hold the puppy we just took home?

It cannot cry with me as I mourn for my friend, it cannot laugh until its stomach aches from the pure joy felt around the best of company, it cannot hope, fantasize, smile, frown, giggle, wince, or scream.

It has no feeling, yet it is expected to show me all of mine.

Broken can be fixed, but being misrepresented in a single moment can never be redone
so what are seven years to an eternity of thinking I’m one thing,
but never actually seeing what everyone else gets to see?



It's definitely not my favorite poem I've ever written, but I'm sharing it because I like the message. (I know, that's super vain, right? I had such a brilliant thought about how we perceive ourselves and since I'm so mature I thought you all needed to learn from my wisdom. Hopefully that's not what it sounds like. Usually when I like an 'idea' of mine it's because other people have shared that idea over and over again and I just finally got it.) 

Anyways, I think the poem is pretty straightforward, but basically I was talking about how we can't judge ourselves by what we see in the mirror. Our reflection is just one tiny piece of who we are. With running the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, what's inside us really does matter so much more. Think about someone in your life you really admire. Do physical flaws ever come to mind when they pop into your head? No. (If they do, there's another lesson you need to learn here.) You don't care if they have acne or crooked teeth or frizzy hair, and those are things you probably wouldn't notice on any random person who you saw. So why do you expect every person you pass to notice every little flaw you see in yourself? We are so hard on ourselves, so critical of our appearances that we can ruin our entire day before we even leave the house. 

My point is: Don't judge yourself by what you see in the mirror. Your physical features are literally only skin deep, and while those "flaws" are really what make you unique and beautiful, please please please don't think they are what defines you. 

When I was in middle school, and even early high school, I would look at myself in the mirror every single morning and immediately begin critiquing myself. My acne is so gross. People probably think I never wash my face. These braces look terrible. My nose is too big. I wish my stomach was flatter. My ears stick out too much. My hair is always frizzy. Other girls don't look like this. And it went on and on. And everyday for those years of my life I left the house wishing I looked other than the way I did. How sad is that??? Do you know how much more fun I would have had if I had learned to love myself? I mean, I have some really great memories from that time in my life because I grew up with an amazing group of friends and an awesome family, but honestly I have about the same amount of memories that involve me trying to be someone I wasn't. 
I am by no means perfect at this right now. I still find myself critiquing my figure or my face at least once or twice a day. But the difference I've found in my happiness is that now I stop myself when I'm doing it. I think as a woman in today's society, there is no way we can go a full day without finding someone "prettier, thinner, or more athletic" to compare ourselves to. But we can stop those comparisons as soon as they start. That has made SUCH a huge difference for me. I can't stress enough how much happier and more relaxed I am now that I've decided that I might not be perfect, but I'm doing my best and I'm beautiful for that reason alone. 

This is a much longer post than I had intended, and I hope I haven't bored anyone to death at this point. I've honestly had a pretty easy life, so there aren't many big issues that I can relate to, like bullying, abuse, or depression, so it's hard for me to feel justified writing about them. But body image, especially in teenage girls, is one thing I absolutely can relate to and I know how much it can affect people, so it's something I am very passionate about. You are so beautiful and so special. Please don't let a mirror define you. There is so much of you that a mirror will never be able to reflect, and those are the things that make you who you are. 

I know I'm not a qualified counselor or anything, but if you or anyone you know is struggling with body image, I am always willing and available to talk about it. You can message me, comment on this post, Facebook me, email me, whatever. Sometimes talking is all you need to feel better.