Mental Images

Everyone has a mental image of themselves. I think we see who we really are in our twenties and that image gets burned into our brains. Twenty years down the road, we look in the mirror and see this older version of our mental image and wonder who it is.

My mother and I were talking on FaceTime the other day and she made a comment that she didn’t like the way she looked in her little box. She said that she looked so wrinkly and old. Then went on to tell me that she went down to the local  drug store the next day to look for some wrinkle cream. I tried to tell her that she was beautiful for an 83 year old woman, but then realized that I too have looked at myself in the mirror and wondered where that middle aged woman came from? I remember myself as a young, smooth-skinned with a slim and taut body so who is this person looking back at me now? I mean, realistically I probably look pretty good for 51, but my mental image is one of when I was much, much younger.

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My mom and I.

Thinking of my own experience in the mirror, I guess I’m not surprised that my mother felt that way. If our mental image of ourselves gets burned into our brains when we are in our twenties, then imagine how it must feel to look back at an eighty something year old in the mirror. She’s a beautiful woman. Not beautiful in the  conventional  sense that society adheres to, but beautiful for a woman of her age. Everyone who meets her are amazed that she is in her eighties. Doctors who check her out tell her that they hope to be like she is when they get up there. But despite all this, she still feels that she looks awful when she actually sees herself on camera.

It doesn’t help that our society is so youth oriented. Older people get pushed aside by the younger generation who think they just have it all and it really does make us feel worthless and old when we really should be celebrating the wisdom that we’ve gained over the years, the experiences that have shaped us into who we are today….

I choose to feel good about myself. I was young once and remember the feeling of invincibility. Of being young and strong with the whole future staring me in the face. Now that I’m here facing the latter half of my lifetime, I realize that youth is fleeting. Being young and on top of the world only lasts so long before the next generation comes along and shoves you out.

And that’s fine… I know what they’re feeling, I know how fleeting that feeling is so they deserve to feel good and strong for however long they can. The true test of how one handles it comes later when the realization sets in that they’re no longer on top of the world but perhaps sliding down the other side of the mountain. I’m okay with it. I enjoy the experiences and wisdom that I’ve gained over the years. I’m not so overly concerned with how I look, how I appear to others, and whether or not I’m sexy enough, smart enough or even fun enough. I’m really okay with who I am. I just want to experience things before this last half of my life goes by. I want to travel, have fun and learn new things. How I look….eh… I want to look good, who doesn’t? But, I want to look good for myself. That’s the biggest difference. Looking good and feeling good for myself rather than for others.

It’s the image that I have in my head that needs to be replaced so that when I look in the mirror there isn’t a little voice saying ” What? Who’s this? The person I know, doesn’t have lines, droopy eyelids, or gray hair.” Well, I do and little by little, I’m learning to accept and love that person that I see in the mirror today.

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