Every night we gaze into the mirror and look at the person we are trying to improve.
Square in the face, straight into the eyes, the person staring back at us is both our best friend and our worst enemy. That person has been the source of all our problems and at the end of the day, the one desperately trying to make it all better.
Some days, it is the only person we have.
I learned something about myself recently. I back myself into a corner when I don’t know how to act. I remain silent, passive, something that blends in with the wallpaper, when I am afraid of messing things up. I guess somewhere along the way I was taught that if you don’t do anything or say anything, you can’t mess it up. You can only ruin something if you actively do something to ruin it. So somewhere in my subconscious I deduced that if I really value something, as long as I leave it alone and don’t touch it I will be able to keep it. Otherwise, I might break it or lose it or get it taken away.
Left to my own devices, I am probably the kind of person who would keep their prized metaphorical brand new roller skates in the glass box they came in, presenting them on display, for show, and terrified of getting them scratched or of losing one, until one day I have grown out of them before I gave myself the chance to even use them. Before I ever got to experience the joy of using that precious gift as it was intended.
Sometimes, we do this sort of thing with our talents.
If I have met a new person and for whatever reason find myself extremely motivated to make a good impression, I usually just shut up as much as possible. I smile a lot, because smiling is universally agreeable. It makes you look like a pleasant person to be around. But I try not to say much, unless I am positive that it is just the right thing at just the right time. According to the inner logic I have been living by for most of my life, I can only mess things up if I talk. If I do something. Meaning that if I really care about an interaction in particular, it might be in my best interest to never say anything.
Because that is always such a good strategy for interactions…
It recently occurred to me that I can mess things up this way by being incredibly boring and lacking personality. This, at the end of the day, can be just as bad as coming off as loud and obnoxious. Sometimes it is even worse.
By fearing my offer will be rejected, I have prevented myself from offering anything in the first place.
Sometimes we look at the person in the mirror after a realization like this and wonder whose side they are on anyway. It teeters on the brink of distrust. How could you do this to me? Like the person staring back at you day in and day out is the one who has been sabotaging you all along. You stare into that person, that reflection, as though they are a problem needing to be fixed. And then you let out a sigh and continue. A minute has passed. The person in the glass is still you. You are a team forged by nature. Inseparable. You’re going to have to work this one out. You’re going to have to learn to get along. Someday there will be a victory, and you will be reminded of how far you have come. The uphill battle.
Opinions aren’t as definitive as we think. Impressions aren’t as static as we fear. What we imagine is “everyone” is not really everyone. We get to start over as often as we want. In life, there are as many turning points as there are turns. And you’re the one holding the wheel.