Friday, May 18, 2012

It's a Mirror Thing

This week I had the pleasure of taking my job to the next level. I attended a state conference of our agencies not just as an attendee but as a presenter. I created and presented one session on my own and co-presented with my supervisor on an all-day training for our agency staff. What a terrific opportunity for me and one that I truly loved. I was put to task not only on my knowledge base at work, but it tasked me to also pull from the confidence I've gained through taekwondo to speak and teach in front of people. However, it also brought out my inner demon - the one I've struggled with all my life - self consciousness. This inner demon disguises itself as vanity, although that makes it no less palatable for me. As one who is very self conscious and slightly vain, you can only imagine what my "body image" of myself is like. This is going to sound very shallow to you, but if you think long enough I'm betting there will be something about yourself that you discover that sounds just as shallow. I have always thrived, from little on up, to being "cute little Jeannie". I told you it was shallow, but that is how I was addressed as a child and at a mere 2 years old I paraded down the dinner table to the tune of Here She Comes, Ms. America as sung by my dad. I was always "cute little Jeannie". So what did I build my image on? What I could see in the mirror. As the years go by we all know the mirror is less kind. The glass doesn't change, but the image does. And when something drastic happens that shatters the image in the mirror (accident, surgery, illness, etc.), for someone like me the self-consciousness rises to a new level. In the past year or so I have been struggling to find my vanity. Yes, you heard me right - find it again. Why? Because it's what made me...well, me! It's how I identified myself. I don't need psychoanalyzing. Right or wrong it's what worked for me. If I felt beautiful and fit and outwardly put together it directly affected my confidence level. Taekwondo has replaced some of the vanity. It has given me a new type of confidence that is not tied to how I look on the outside but how strong I feel on the inside. It has helped me through my breast cancer battle, and it has given me the confidence to go further in my work than I ever thought I could. So here I am at the beginning of this week getting ready for my training sessions and meet and greets with all the people in my network. It was a major task for vain little me to get ready for. I had to make sure I had the right suits, the right shoes, the right jewelry, the right cologne. I made sure to trim my bangs, give myself a mani/pedi and a facial, and make sure my makeup was fit for the occasion. The first night there I wasn't sure who had arrived yet. I dressed up in jeans, a dressy blouse and high heels. My hair was done and makeup immaculate. And here's where that pesky mirror came into play. As I was heading down to the lobby for the nightly reception I stopped in the elevator bay on my floor. The lighting was soft, not harsh. There were tasteful decorations flanking the 2 elevators, and a full length wall mirror. Oh boy. I turned to the mirror, checked my makeup and hair and noticed something odd. Somehow this mirror had been engineered to elongate the person looking into it. And the lighting along with the mirror gave the effect of being much younger. Here is little old vain me looking in a mirror that seemed to melt away years and pounds! How wonderful! As you can imagine, I struck a pose! It was then I realized that this little mirror taught me a lesson - you are not who you see when you look in the mirror. For better or for worse, we never really see ourselves as we truly are. All the makeup, all the clothes, all the primping in the world will not change who you really are. You can put any kind of dressing you want on a salad, but if it's spoiled, the dressing will only hide it for a time. Who you are will shine through any dressing. My vanity was tested, especially during my presentations. But I had the joy of being received warmly by my peers who all gave me rave reviews. That is something the dressing couldn't hide. I had to be prepared, confident and knowledgable. The dressing was only that - dressing. We should dress and present ourselves appropriately. But it can never hide who you really are. That little mirror showed me much more than how I looked on the outside. And I feel fabulous!

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