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Frightened by Your Own Reflection?September 30, 2011
by Katie Newingham
Last month, my husband and I spent our date night at an upside down house in Myrtle Beach. We explored the extreme winds of hurricanes, laid on a bed of nails, triumphed through a multi-level ropes course and laughed at each other's misconstrued reflections in funhouse mirrors. One mirror made me shorter and fatter, while another made me taller and leaner, but none of them reflected my true image.
Have you ever looked in a mirror and not recognized your own reflection? It happens to me every morning. I wake up, go into the bathroom, turn on the light and stand in front of the mirror shocked by my mess of frizzy curls, puffy eyes and pale complexion reflecting back at me. I think, "Who is this imposter?" It's not an image I would ever want to share with anyone, though it's quite humorous when put in perspective.
Perspective is Everything
If you met me as a teenager, the depression era as I like to call it, you might of thought I was going no where - that's what I thought. I looked in the mirror and saw nothing good, nothing beautiful and certainly nothing special. I went to school and felt lost in the classroom, alone in the halls and isolated at home.
Now friends tell me I've got it all: a loving marriage, beautiful children and the skinny gene. If you read my posts from destinations like Hawaii and Disney World you might think I can afford fancy vacations and you might even see my pictures and think "She's a pretty mama." But behind this image of a woman who has it all together, is the same girl from high school. I've just learned to tame the frizz, apply concealer and add blush.
Isn't it funny how we see each other as polished, but we see ourselves as flawed. A neighbor stopped by unexpectedly the other day. I raced to the door, throwing toys and burp clothes under the couch. Of course, I apologized for the way my house looked as I invited her in. She responded, "I assure you my house looks worse..." But that wasn't enough for me. I was still embarrassed because I knew where all my unwashed clothes and spiderwebs were and I thought she could see them too.
What's Lurking Beneath the Surface
The layers beneath the surface can't be covered up, they eventually come out to haunt us and usually at the worst times. If you're finances aren't in order, your credit card will get declined and as you yell at the checkout lady or break down crying, chances are your neighbor will be standing at the next register - been there, done that.
But finances are a lot easier to get in order than a marriage - can I get an Amen! Five years ago, after a year of feeling distant from my husband, my emotions bubbled over and I told him I didn't think we were right for each other. I didn't think I was good enough for him is the truth. I graduated from college, got a job traveling around the world, but to me I was still not good enough. Luckily he thought so and stood by me long enough for me to get a new perspective.
My problem was I was always looking up to other people and couldn't see myself as their equal. If I didn't look like them, dress like them, follow their same career path or receive the same accolades, I assumed it was because I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough or social enough. Finally, I realized I wasn't going to be able to have a healthy marriage, career or family if I couldn't see my own value. That shift in perspective helped me eventually learn no one has it all, all of the time.
Making an Impression
Often, we meet those we look up to in their element and in their impression era. The impression era is defined by those times in our life when things seem to be going well, and we have the right perspective both internally and externally.
As mothers we want to be in the impression era - always - don't we? All of the sudden we have little eyes looking up to us and we want to show them a role model, but we're still just imperfect people. We are given an opportunity to instill in our children that what makes them unique is what makes them special. It's an important lesson to teach since the things that separate us from one another are often the very things that make us successful in life. But it's hard to teach what we haven't already learned.
If you read this and you don't know which era you're in, reflect on your activities and mindset. If you find yourself getting "stuck" on others Facebook profiles or you're continually comparing yourself to other mothers who you think have it all, you're probably in that depression era. To get out, give yourself a timeout from other peoples lives. Spend your "free" time reveling in things you do well. Obviously, my pass time is writing, but I also like to play board games and sit on my front porch with a cup of coffee. When you do have a quiet moment think about how far you've come and where you want to be. Before you know it the only time you'll want to be like someone else will be on Halloween. You'll realize that who you are, warts and all, is who you were created to be.
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