Finish The Sentence Friday

My Reflection

I’ve hated myself for years for many different reasons. As far back as grade school, I can remember looking into the mirror and wishing I was somehow different. Not me, most definitely not me.

As a child, I lived in a predominately white neighborhood (at the time) in South Philadelphia. I grew up in the homes of friends whose families readily accepted the quiet, socially awkward child that desperately wanted to be like them. Unlike my Black school mates, I didn’t grow up in what I would call an “Afro-centric” home. I was always told that my “Blackness” would be my Achilles heel. I would have to work harder and be better than everyone else, to get noticed. All the while, making sure that I never acted in a stereotypical fashion. Don’t talk loud, dress low key, blend in, and most importantly, never use slang. Heavy stuff for an eight-year-old.

I hated my reflection then as I do now but for different reasons. The mantra of my youth, fortunately, doesn’t completely apply to the 21th century. Yet, my loathing of myself still does. The great thing about getting older is that you realize it’s less about what you look like and more about what you do. Therein lies the problem of growing older, self-awareness. My decisions and sometimes lack thereof haunt my reflection now. When I look at myself, I see a trail of missed opportunities and poor choices that litter the last fifteen years of my life. I see my children and my desperate desire for them not to make the same mistakes I did. I struggle with myself to walk that fine line between living my life through them and letting them fall on their face so they can learn.

I used to think that life was all about what you had and who you grew up to be. Now, I know it’s simply about living. You get to wake up every morning to a clean slate. The ability to turn all the missed opportunities of yesterday into chances taken today is a wonderful thing. It took a long time for me to realize that I’m not a failure because I haven’t done “X” by “X” age. I no longer have to feel like I’ve let my family and friends down because I didn’t live up to expectations that weren’t even my own.

There is also the ever-present reminder with each new grey hair that the clock is ticking. While 37 is far from old (a statement that would have never fallen from these lips 10 years ago) the passage of time weighs on me. I feel there is an urgency to at last get it right or literally die trying. All of this, I see when I look in the mirror, the passage of life written across my face.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, hosted by Kristi Rieger Campbell of Finding Ninee and April Noelle of http://www.aprilnoelle.com/.

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8 thoughts on “My Reflection

  1. Not too long ago (last month) I wrote in a line “or slowly die inside”. We’ve got to do what our spirit is calling for us to do instead of watching life pass us by. Sometimes I am grateful that I didn’t have a daughter because my life may have been more invested in making sure she stayed on the path that I fell off of. But I hope that if I did have a daughter I would lead by example by getting it right “now”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Daughters are hard. I only have one and one is ENOUGH. : ) Sons or daughters we have to lead by example. We can’t expect them to chase their dreams if we let ours sit collecting dust on a shelf. Thanks for stopping by and well said!

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  2. Freeing ourselves from not living up to expectations that are not our own is huge. Truly huge. Also the whole knowing when to let our children fall on their faces – I have a hard time with that one too. So glad you linked up, Michelle. I thought it was funny that you mentioned that 37 not being old is something that wouldn’t have fallen from your mouth 10 years ago – I’m 10 years past 37 and miss being “young!” It’s all relative I suppose…

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  3. ” it’s simply about living. You get to wake up every morning to a clean slate. The ability to turn all the missed opportunities of yesterday into chances taken today” — I LOVE THAT! Something I’m utterly, unimaginably HOPELESS at. I look at myself with all the weight of those unmet expectations, and the dragging of worry for the future, and I forget to be present in the Now. I forget that each day brings new time to be used for the best, and so I fritter it away, worrying.

    Back in the UK I’m reading a book by Ann Voskamp, called 1000 Gifts. It’s tough going because it’s so densely and richly written, but in essence it’s similar to this – finding the importance of being present in the NOW, and fully appreciating each moment, and in THAT way, we live to the fullest.

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  4. Yes. This is an ever evolving process. My son woke me up with a moment of clarity, about a year ago, when I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up. (I’m still tweeking but he’s got the answer) I am shooting you the link here – I think you may like it.
    I’m sending it for you not as a solicitation, so if you want to hide or delete this comment with the link, I understand. Thanks for writing this – it brought me back to these important thoughts.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mardra-sikora/what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up_b_6464422.html

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  5. Seeing the passage of time in the mirror as a challenge to live life to the fullest is wonderful and enlightened. Getting older can be scary — but less so if we make ourselves a promise to “get it right”. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey!

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  6. That’s interesting. Raising a child that goes to a predominately white school is difficult. What do you wish your parents had done differently to boost your self-confidence, instead of leaving you feeling not good enough? I don’t want him to feel like his blackness is an Achilles heel. I was told the same things and never thought about it much.

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