When the world is collapsing around me, I like to go to the mirror and stare at myself.
What am I looking for?
Signs of damage of course.
I’m tracing my cheekbones and noting how sharp or blunt they look. I’m recording in my mind; the sallowness of my skin tone, the weary bags under my brown eyes and even the way how I look at myself.
Am I standing straight, are my shoulders back? Can I see how much the world weighs on me? How often do I sigh … how often do I break eye contact with myself? Am I healthy or overweight again?
Am I breathing evenly or am I on the verge of some panic attack?
I take note of everything, from the length of my chin hairs, to the way how my jaw clenches when I’m frustrated, angry and determined.
But it is my eyes that I study the most.
Are they still burning brightly or have they been dulled?
Am I still the man I strive to be?
Do I still have what it takes to rise above it all?
If my eyes glare back, my jaw clenches tightly and I am breathing heavily, then yes. I still have what it takes.
I’m not downtrodden, disappointed or defeated.
I can still fight and win.
I can think myself out of this situation, slay the dragon and get home safely.
I still have more life to give, more willpower to spare, more energy to release.
I’m still me.
I’ve mentioned it before, but mirrors aren’t really mirrors in my eyes. They’re a crucial mental health tool for me and a portal to something darker inside.
I’ve always had a bit of a strange fear of mirrors. I’m terrified of the day when one day my reflection might move without my permission, or that one day it’ll talk to me.
But like any fear, you find yourself consumed slightly by your obsession with it. I’ve had long staring contests with myself at night, when there is only moonlight coming from the window to illuminate my face.
It’s truly eerie to stare at yourself in the dark. But I’m transfixed. Because the fear that I might start moving without realising it is too strong.
Mirrors don’t serve as a vanity item to me. They’re a check-up tool, to examine how healthy I am, a reminder that I can always be doing more exercise, performing better or engaging in daily skincare routines.
They help me remember important tasks and to live life more effectively without compromises to my hobbies and extracurricular activities.
I’ve always found it bizarre that the only time we can see ourselves is when we stare at a mirror.
We live our lives, knowing what everyone else looks like at all time, but only infrequently see ourselves.
It’s no wonder that people spend so much time staring at themselves. We can’t help it. It’s a constant source of curiosity, as if we almost forget what we look like.
Perhaps this is why narcissism is on the rise. A selfie camera allows you to see yourself almost instantaneously. We fret over ourselves a lot more than we normally would in the yesteryear. We look inwards and thank our genes that we are better looking than other people.
But such insecure fragility isn’t something I recommend.
Mirrors aren’t meant to help you look your best at all times.
They’re there to remind you of who you are, from every flaw to every beautiful line. From each imperfection all the way to each wonderfully unique element of you.
You’ll never look the same, when you stare at a mirror again.
Every time you look at yourself, something subtle would have changed.
It’s why I fear the mirror. It’s a powerful tool that should only be used sparingly, to remind me of who I am, what I am capable of and to reflect deeply upon the choices I’ve made that has created such change on my body and face.
When I look at myself in the mirror, I’m not just staring at face.
I’m seeing the sum of a man, who is a bit haggard, rough around the edges but is still capable.
I don’t see a particularly good looking man either.
I won’t be gracing magazine covers or turning heads on the streets.
I see symmetry, a decent jaw-line that does a good job of clenching and emphasizing my moods.
The barest hint of cheekbones, that when hit with a decent light, showcases how long my face is.
A permanent frown, that can be lit up into a smile that hurts my jaw when held too long.
Tanned skin, that is getting paler in the winter, marred by too many beauty marks, especially around my eyes.
Dark brown hair that lightens up considerably near my forehead and is perpetually sweeping right.
Dark brown eyes that would look better if my eyebrows were more defined.
Posture wise, I see a guy who is bizarrely confident in himself, constantly squared on to people, unafraid of making eye contact and always stretching his shoulders.
A relatively lean figure that could be improved with at least a 2-3 kilogram loss to ensure a more fit & trim physique.
To sum up what I see in the mirror … I’m an average male, not handsome nor ugly, with no real particularly stand out features, beyond my eyes which express a whole lot more than my facial features.
I think I have introspective and focused eyes, eyes that are constantly scanning my surroundings and looking into the past to try and prevent mistakes in the future.
But as I’ve mentioned, before this descriptive literary self-portrait …. I am not just a face.
I’m the sum of a man, plagued and blessed by good and bad choices, tired of his workplace, proud of his hobbies and working damn hard to remain interesting and … in need of some sleep or Red Bull.
I could use a walk away from my reflection though.
When I do finally break eye contact with my mirror self … I’m always haunted slightly by the idea, that somewhere else, in an alternate dimension, another Damocles is having a more successful time than I am.
And I can’t stand that thought.