She didn’t like what she saw when she looked at her own image, but she hadn’t always felt that way. Once upon a time she was free. Everyone was. Free to just be, without a barrage of comparison and inadequacy pummelling us in the face with every wave of a finger. The foul image of self hate suckling from the bosom of self promotion did not sit in our palms and laps back then. To know one’s self was to seek enlightenment. Self exploration was internal. Self was not a face or a pose. Self was something deep and she truly liked her “self” back then.
These days, though, in spite of all that she knew and had known, she was overcome. She had lost her footing as the shifting landscape of image and worth moved the ground away from under her feet. She wanted no part in it, yet it shaped everything. The monster of new self was viral. No one was spared from its contaminating grip. While she wasn’t alone in her fear of the beast, she felt outnumbered by those who delighted in it. Revelling in the filtered faces of their loved ones. Celebrating the mundane as though it was the new definition of extraordinary and congratulating themselves as they did so.
How was she supposed to cope? She who admired humility so. How could she face those who preached equality while rubbing other’s faces in their privilege at every opportunity? How could she love herself when she felt such despair deep within? At times she felt so lost and alone that she wanted nothing more than to hide away in a dark room, never to be looked upon, frowned upon, judged and judged again for not looking right or acting the same. She tried to change herself more times than she could recount, but failed to be anything more than the picture of awkward desperation. She dwelled. She wallowed. Filling with self pity. She, herself, consumed by self. Blind.
Meanwhile, an army of great minds spoke eloquently of the very things that troubled her soul. Pioneers for change worked daily to spread a counter message to that of the self obsessed. The gracious and the humble continued on with their lives, as they always had, full of respect and love for humanity. The world was indeed wide and intricately webbed with nuance and individualism that she was choosing not to see.
At the core of it all, it was a profound feeling of loneliness that she needed to overcome. She was a likable person who liked to be liked. She longed to be loved, but loved to be liked and tried to settle with that. It was selfish to want more than that. A privilege that not everyone was afforded, despite what we’re led to believe. Even so, she was convinced, by all that she’d witnessed, that to be seen through the eyes of someone that loved her would change everything. That it was all she needed to turn things around. But what if those eyes never found hers? What if it wasn’t enough? Would she ever let go of this childish notion and realise that love is for the living?
“Get over yourself.”
She wouldn’t admit it, but she had been consumed by the depression inducing age of information and communication. This being a concept that she vehemently rejected while struggling to convince herself that she didn’t care. She felt weak of mind to have fallen so far down the well because of images created by varying personas of people she knew and had known, but her struggle was real and she was not alone in it. Acknowledgment was the first step.
“Get over it.”
She had all the answers she would ever need right there in her own mind and reinforced by many, which made them all the more difficult to hear. “I know!” she protested. “I get it.” “You don’t need to tell me this!” Who was she fighting against? Herself? Frustration was the next side effect of the engulfing virus. Frustrated by her inability to untangle the web and walk free again. Frustrated by weakness, yet strengthened by frustration. Enough was enough. It was time.
When she looked at herself, once again, in the mirror, she did not feel uplifted. She did not have a sense of accomplishment after overcoming her viral state. She was not empowered somehow, nor was she a new woman. She had no encouraging story to tell others in similar situations or words of wisdom to guide them back to the real world. She had not found peace. What she had found was a knowing that there is no peace. There are no answers. No one can guide you to a place that exists within. No one but you. And you will have many choices to make along the journey. None are right, none are wrong, but you must make peace with the choices you make in order to feel right with the world. In order to feel right with yourself.