You are not the only one who has found an enemy in the mirror.
My fingers would trace the uneven texture of my face and the acne plaguing me into adulthood, my gut twisting into a paralyzing mix of hatred, frustration and desperate wishing. I would blink hard, wondering if I could will my imperfection into a poreless porcelain. My eyes would always open to find that I could not.
Perhaps, that feeling is all too familiar for you, too. There may be a different component of your reflection you wage war with, be it your size, a physical feature or, like me, your skin. It stares back at you and sends you into a spiral of self-hatred. You wonder if it will ever change and if you will ever be free from its tyranny.
The mirror is not your enemy. Your body, your hair, your skin and your face aren’t either. Your enemy are the lies you were told, especially the ones you believed that now run wild in your mind.
The mirror is not your enemy.
Can I tell you something true instead? Your heart is the absolute most valuable, definitive and important thing about you. It is the essence of your beauty, and it is desperately needed.
The body and smile you present it with are gifts worth cherishing, but the vibrance and strength of your personality is what is truly compelling. Your “imperfections” (by whose standards?) make no difference in the meaningful beauty you have to offer.
“It doesn’t matter,” I would repeat, staring myself down, eyes teary. My heart and my mind matter. I became determined to know my beauty outside a mirror.
I became determined to rest in the fact that I had more to offer the world than a pretty smile. It was not out of bitterness, frustration or striving but out of sweet release that I adopted this mantra. The ache continued for some time. I would exhale and affirm, “It doesn’t matter,” until it didn’t or at least, until it mattered less.
I became determined to rest in the fact that I had more to offer the world than a pretty smile.
With an expo marker, I wrote reminders of my beauty on the mirror that greeted me each morning. I wrote the words that did matter. Intentional, wise, kind, bold, enthusiastic, loving—these were truths and therefore, my beauty. These were the words I decided would matter.
Over time, I ceased to hate the person looking back at me. I forgave her for what I wished was different and embraced her for what she was. My mind healed, and funny enough, my face started to heal, too. Truly the joy of it all has been the deep rest of believing the truth over lies and knowing my own beauty because of it.
That’s what I hope for you, too. That you would know your heart and that it matters. This is where your beauty lies.
How do you see yourself? Have you ever struggled to think you are enough?
Image via Sarah Kehoe, Darling Issue No. 14