A year ago I had to renew my passport, so I went to the Walgreen’s near my office at lunch to get photos taken. I remember feeling exhausted, but also happy because I was excited for my upcoming trip. The photos came out and when I saw them, I didn’t recognize myself. I looked terrible. I looked beat down and tired. My face looked. . . saggy and dim. Was that really what I looked like? I felt my cheeks burn, and paid for my photos and left.*
Back at the office, way up on the 26th floor where we had amazing views of the bay, I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror. I really looked. I saw bloodshot eyes, from staring too long at a screen. I saw slumped shoulders. A down-turned mouth. I saw a spark in the eye, but it was dim. Like an overcast sky. I thought, This isn’t right. I tried to smile. It was grotesquely superficial and unconvincing.
Something has to change, I thought. And there was a moment of utter silence inside my brain, before I heard this gentle inner voice say, “Ok, love, so what are you going to do about it?” My brain came back online. Oh, right. I guess that’s up to me. This realization that I am the one responsible for showing up to my life. And if something wasn’t working, it was up to me to see it, and then do something about it.
It’s hard to see ourselves. It’s good that we have mirrors: literal ones, like the one in the bathroom, and figurative ones, like our friends and even those people who criticize us. It’s all information about yourself.
Be willing to see. Even when it’s hard to look.
You might already be aware of things in your life you have a hard time seeing. It might be in your health or relationship, your career or your bank account. Maybe it’s the way you talk to yourself. Or something else you can’t even say, because it’s far too tender for words.
Look gently, love. Be curious. Be kind. Be willing to see and show up for your own precious life.
*I had new photos taken on a day I felt refreshed and deeply happy. They came out great! Since my passport was to last me 10 years, I wanted good pictures. I’m happy I went back for another round.