Being a human is difficult. We often feel we must compete with others to be seen and valued as individuals.
Being a woman complicates this even more.
Women are constantly balancing between natural, and learned, roles of nurturers, guardians of beauty, communicators, facilitators, supporters of others.
There is very little room for self-expression.
We want to be seen but we feel we can’t show off who we are. It is not an acceptable way of being feminine.
We have a kind of schizophrenic relationship with ourselves.
We are required to be beautiful but being vain is not good.
We are encouraged to adorn ourselves to be attractive, but we can’t be too sexy, or we are seen as sluts.
We are expected to like children and raise them, but we are also pushed to be professional and contribute, or we are labeled lazy and dumb.
So, we feel always wrong; always lacking, and never ourselves.
I know there are many women who have this experience.
We can’t see ourselves behind all these masks.
We become our roles and not ourselves.
So, we learn to not like ourselves. And we avoid mirrors for fear of seeing what we don’t want, what we fear: our true selves.
This is because when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we are usually looking through someone else’s lens, someone else’s eyes.
And those eyes are critical, judgmental, and colored by a self-imposed system that exists to keep people “safe” but makes us slaves to conformity.
We see ourselves as we have been told we look. And that image does not measure up to the socially agreed ideal of what we are supposed to look like. We feel we have to “fix” ourselves to fit in.
So, we cover ourselves with make-up, we sculpt our bodies with diet and exercise, we exhaust ourselves with doing too much, pleasing too much, and never, ever, looking in the mirror with no make-up and with the lights all on.
Often, we believe that it is vain to look in the mirror.
We are given the story of Narcissus, who died of thirst because he became obsessed with his own image and became full of himself.
This is a cautionary story about not fully owning ourselves so we can fit into a social vision of what we can be.
And it’s a myth! Myths are not real.
So, who are we to fill ourselves with if not ourselves?
Are we to fill ourselves with someone else? Someone else’ looks, ideas, desires, experiences, gifts?
If that is true, why not just clone the “ideal” human then?
Why even exist?
If that were true, what is the point of a rainbow?
An interesting thing happens when we stop conforming and start really looking at ourselves.
When we let go of the shame of not being right or enough, we discover an abundant, infinite world inside us.
We discover a beauty that surpasses and transcends the image we are fed by commercialism.
We surprise ourselves with our intelligence, our capacity for creation, connection, and love.
When we look in the mirror with our own eyes, free from social veils, we see the light behind our eyes, we see the wonder of our bodies, we experience the genius of our heart.
And being human becomes easy, and pleasurable.
After all, pleasure IS our birthright.