I originally wrote this article two years ago for my old blog, the Uphill Factor. I wanted to share it again here because I still struggle with what I see in the mirror and I’m sure someone else out there does too.
I’ve gotten better over the last two years, but even this week, my hip hop teacher said she can see it on my face and in my dancing when I doubt myself; my moves immediately get smaller and safer. In turn, she said she can tell when I feel confident about a move because I go big and I go strong. So the ability is always there; it’s the trust and confidence that waver. I laughed because Teacher has only been telling me the same things for three years!
Sometimes I feel like I’ll never overcome this challenge. But I can see progress. Little by little, I tweak my mindset. I keep telling my demons, “screw you, I’m not quitting,” even when I feel like I look like an idiot.
For your reading pleasure:
They say that reality is in the eye of the beholder. But what if the eye lies? How many times have you been told you look great, but when you look in the mirror, all you see is “ugh”? Our perception of reality can be distorted by our past experiences, our fears, and our doubts. I’ve written about expectations before. You may expect something because of past experience but the present reality is entirely different. You can feel like you’re in the Twilight Zone when what you believe to be reality contradicts others’ perception of reality. So what do you believe?
When it comes to self-image, we tend to be our own worst critic. We see the flaws in ourselves, things we wish we could change, while others see the positives, the beauty. The idea of accepting who we are and the notion that we should be kinder to ourselves have gained a lot of movement in the last few years, if my Facebook feed is any measure. I’ve seen videos like
These videos are focused on how women in particular perceive themselves but the messages are universal. You are beautiful, you are enough, you are worthy. These videos always get to me because it’s a message I would preach to everyone but myself. Why? Like everyone else, I am my own worse critic. Those demons in my head tell me I’m the exception. Other people are enough. Other people are worthy. But not me.
The worst part is this distorted perception of myself affects my dancing. I don’t push my limits as far as I could because I believe if I put myself way out there where people can see, they will see that I’m not good enough to be out there. If I play it safe, I can keep my secret of being unworthy and still do this thing that I love. But I can’t experience it fully by playing it safe. This awful lie I tell myself holds me back and I know it.
So why am I holding onto this lie? The demons haven’t given me a good answer to that one. I have to recognize that other people see something different in me than what I see when I look in the mirror. And just because I’ve been looking at myself longer doesn’t mean I know better.
Accepting what other people see is a whole other struggle. It means changing my entire perception of reality. But I want to see what other people see because it sounds like they see a pretty cool girl. I want to get to see her too. So I keep struggling to accept that what I tell myself is a lie and keep working to clean off the distortions on my mirror. One day it’ll be clear.
One more video as a reminder to me and everyone else. Play it while you look in the mirror.