Let me tell you all something, don’t buy a professional camera* and turn the lens on yourself unless you want to find out how you really look.
Now that we have that out of the way, the past week I’ve been cocooned in my lair working on a little project and enjoying the solitude. Since comfort and warmth topped my holiday wish list, and because I wasn’t taking any extra steps to look more presentable than necessary. So if I wasn't dressed in a series of layers, like a regular hobo, then I was wrapped up in a blanket, holding it close to the chest while walking so it didn't fall down and expose me to the cold. Every now and then when I had to get up from my desk, walking by the mirror I almost jumped to see my reflection. Real rough looking.
"Cha! Why I look so?"
I wondered aloud, but then carried on as before.
Then yesterday I took a good look at myself, hair dishelved, eyebrows haywire, and wearing the same sweater since Christmas Day and decided enough was enough. It was time to find some pride.
Now mind you, I’m very serious about cleanliness, showering twice a day even in California's drought climate, so just because I wear the same clothes for days on end, it doesn't mean I'm not clean! Still, a little sprucing up can go a long way and today was high time.
After a long shower and a new set of clothes it was time for the reveal, in the form of a self portrait. Not some instagram selfie from the front facing camera. No, no, this would be done with the lens* through with beauty, or lack of it lay.
I was shocked!!!!
It had been a while since I took a picture of myself up close, natural lighting, with no make up at all. At the beginning of the year when I saw the first sign of laugh lines (whoever said black didn't crack was a liar) I felt a bit disheartened. "I guess I'm old now..." I thought, and from that point on wasn't so keen to take that many portraits. But today, after a long time not truly seeing myself I was pleasantly surprised.
I almost always have a serious face, and at times I wonder if this makes me look unattractive. I remember once a friend told me the first time she saw me she thought 'that girl looks mean!' because of how serious I was. And was so surprised at who I turned out to be when she got to know me.
Today, seeing my face in it's normal serious state, I liked it. I looked like a serious person. I am a serious person. I looked like myself, and I am fine with that.
I think it’s important to occasional remind ourselves who we are. And see our true selves, free from makeup, free from snapchat filters.
Still, are lots of reasons we might want to hide from ourselves. I don't know if I'm the only one, but how I see myself changes depending on how I feel about myself. It's not that much of a problem these days because I took steps to remedy it, but back in the day, say I make a mistake, or don't get an outcome I anticipated, suddenly I look in the mirror and I see this ugly person staring back at me. The slight blemishes or dark circles from lack of sleep become grotesque and my shaggy hair transforms into a dull lifeless mat. And so at times I might go for days without really looking in the mirror, averting my eyes while I brush my teeth. And then the day finally comes when I feel like myself again and I catch a glimpse, or maybe feel brave enough to face myself and there I am. The mind really is something else.
I found one of the things that helped me at the time was keeping a mirror on my desk. And every now and then when I felt myself slipping away, I would glance at my reflection to sort of remember who I am. Also I kept a picture of me with my family and though it was a childhood photo I recognize myself and also recognized that I came from somewhere and so on those days when I felt invisible or irrelevant it was a reminder that I existed. Anyway before I get too deep, back to the present.
Satisfied with the condition of my bare face, I decided to apply a few beauty enhancing products to see...
Not bad at all.
So basically what I'm trying to say is don't be afraid to look at yourself. And if you ever come to a point where you feel like you can't face yourself, find ways to connect with the inner you, whether it's a trip down memory lane to remember who you used to be, or making a plan for who you would like to become.