Through the looking glass

What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? What are you really trying to see when you adjust your hair or put on that extra dash of lipstick? Well a seemingly stupid question I suppose? I mean of course the mirror reflects how we look and we want to look our best of course!

We have all at some point or the other spoken about or atleast thought to ourselves about how wrong it is to be judgemental, to be a critic without knowing the other person or just how inhuman it is to not put oneself into the other’s shoes when we raise a finger at someone. And yet for those few moments before the mirror, we become the toughest of critics, the most judgemental beings and become objects of scrutiny by our own selves. Every crease on the face, every dark patch below the eyes, every blotch on the skin and every tiny detailing of the hair comes under the toughest scrutiny and oh! How unforgiving we can get to be !

When we stand in front of these adorned pieces of glass, we somehow cease to be the identity we have created for ourselves. The degrees we have worked so hard for, the achievements at our professional frontiers, the sleepless nights to realize our dreams and the tireless striving for life-changing relationships, they all cease to exist. And we become victims of our own invigilating eyes, examining for mistakes that can shatter our confidence, looking at how we may be looked at by those who would see us and stripped off to our bare bodies by eyes that only seem to look outside and seldom within!

The mirror then goes a step forward. In that moment of shame, yes the shame of not being good enough for our own eyes, the mirror reflects the blotches, patches and wrinkles of our personalities too. Suddenly it shows us the self-doubt in our own abilities, the diffidence in our attitudes, the reluctance in our actions and the disapproval of all those around us. The mirror at this juncture ceases to be a friend and instead torments us forcing us to look away. Until the next time we look at it and wait with trembling eyes for its approval.

Today was different, I woke up and stared at the mirror. What I saw was quite troubling. My face was puffy having slept little, eyes looked droopy , tousled hair and a new blotch on my skin. But something overcame me, I refused to look away and stared back at my reflection instead. I realized I was not looking at the reflection in the glass, I was instead looking through it, to a spot right behind it. As though I were looking back at myself through the mirrors eyes. I felt a little dizzy as a zillion thoughts went through my head in a flash second. What I saw left me breathless: The last 25 years, through school, college, post-graduation and work; through pillow fights with siblings , squabbles with cousins, and cold wars with friends; through illness and farewells; through birthday parties, anniversaries and funerals; through crushes and heartbreaks; through painful failures and overwhelming successes; through loneliness and companionship; through ups and downs…

I stared without blinking at the imperfect image of my reflection. Here was a 25 year old, on the journey of becoming an adult and yet refusing to let go of the child within; with fears and doubts; with more questions than answers; confused, unclear and a trying to find her way, and yet undeterred and ready to take on the next challenge hurled at her. Sometimes it takes a stir to settle a disturbance and smoothen the surface. In that moment of sudden clarity, it hit me that the mirror was itself a reflection, a reflection of my mind and the thoughts within. I was the controller here, not the mirror, hadn’t I just looked through the glass and seen myself through the mirror’s eyes?

A sudden wave of exhaustion overtook me. I gently stroked my puffy face and brushed back my hair. This time not to make my appearance better or rectify a disoriented picture, but with pride and acceptance of all that has made me who I am…


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