Mirror Mirror

I admit it. I love external validation. Tell me I’m smart if you want to watch a grown woman blush.

Time and again, I have given too much power to someone’s bad opinion of me, distorting my self-image and warping my vision. I have watched with bated breath as people dissect my ideas, quietly gutting myself with every slice, and I have barely contained all too many squeals of delight when paid an authentic compliment. I often think of this as a single-direction dependency, but there is another angle that I rarely admit: I have the power to glitter up a room.

I could listen to Lizzo’s “Juice” a thousand times. She’s unapologetically the center of attention, the hottest badass in the room. I love the chorus, especially the line, “if I’m shinin’ everybody gonna shine.” There is something in me like leadership, and while it’s most often muted, pushed aside, or otherwise covered in the filth of my own self-disrespect, I can feel its potential glimmering from time to time.

“If I’m shinin’ everybody gonna shine.” – Lizzo (Juice)

My years of working in theatre taught me to read a room, and when all eyes are on me, the pinprick of excitement is at the base of my spine. I love inspiring happiness, and I love being messy. I laugh too loud and on the rare occasions that I dance, I dance with strange, sporadic, jiggly abandon. In my best moments, I give people permission to be as joyful as I am.

I’ve been down lately. I haven’t been engaging and I haven’t been creative. Sometimes I need to protect myself—I won’t apologize for that—but I’ll admit to being withdrawn for a few months. In the past week, I’ve been reminding myself of my own badassery. Big steps include: writing in this blog again / wearing lots of glitter / listening to “Juice” on repeat today / making new friends / getting good work done.

The best part, the very best part, is that when I’m feeling myself, I see my wife’s eyes light up with a thing like hope.

Intention is important, so here’s mine. If this is a superpower, I will use it for good. I will reflect the authentic joy I see around me back out into the world. I will bounce the wisdom and the kindness, but I will endeavor not to absorb the toxic bullshit. And when I’m not strong enough to be a mirror to the world, I will let my loved ones reflect what I am, so that maybe this time I can believe it.

Steps

Y’all, I stopped writing. I just stopped. I’ve also stopped doing much walking, stretching, or other activity for more months than I care to admit.

Rest is critical / stasis can be poisonous. Author’s note: If you’re getting nervous, you can relax. This is not a weight loss story.

I felt angry at my legs for not carrying me further, and at my lower back for aching me to a halt. I felt jealous toward the writing accomplishments of my friends, when I should have been so proud. But I’m feeling a bit new this morning. I made a new friend last night who teared up as she told me how much writing her instagram blog has changed her life, and talking with her reminded me that it’s not followers or success that make a writer, it’s work, practice, and feeling that calling.

I’m at a conference and walking around 15,000 steps a day (I revived my old, dead fitbit so I could see). I’m tired and sore and I have swollen feet, but I’m learning so much. I’ve been breathless, trying to keep up with others who are taller or more able than I am. I can feel these two ideas linking up in my mind, limping back up to my consciousness in lockstep. I can write, maybe even move more, and protect myself as well.

I think I have the chance to push myself and forgive myself today. That feels right.