The person in the mirror is not familiar to me at all. I’m tired and empty, and she is pretty and happy. Where can I find the real ‘me’?


I wish I looked like me

Gasping for air I open my eyes.
Distorted images of boneless hands on my skin slowly fade from my mind, getting replaced by the shadowy dimensions of my bedroom.
With both hands I stroke my sweaty hair out of my eyes and stare at my reflection in the small mirror on my nightstand.
A nightmare.
The taste in my mouth is foul and my clock reads 7:26. I heave myself out of bed and into my shared bathroom. My two flatmates are still asleep so I have it all to myself.
As the scraping of my toothbrush against my teeth and the water dripping from the tab are the only sounds filling my head I realize how empty I am. No thoughts. No feelings.
Just this monotone behavior. Every move feels like a chore, every breath like a conscious decision.
I don’t wanna be here.
I don’t wanna be.
I don’t wanna.
I don’t.
Who am I?
The person staring back at me through the mirror doesn’t seem familiar at all.
I don’t associate this face with me.
I don’t fit into this body. These clothes.
This bland hair, the pale skin, the uneven brows.
I spit the toothpaste out and wrap my arms around my waist.
Not me. This is not me. This woman is not me.
This flesh is not me.
So who am I?
What am I?
Am I the dreams that haunt me at night, stemming from my suppressed feelings that I can’t deal with? Am I the desires that I can’t express? Am I the memories I carry around with me every day, the experiences that influence every single one of my decisions?
Or am I simply this body of flesh and bones, steered by society’s expectations and regulations?
I can’t be the only one who feels like this.
So lost, so empty, so disassociated from myself and reality.
Why does the urge to rip all my hair out and tear the skin from my cheeks consume me whenever I see my reflection?
Why do I wanna punch my knuckles bloody and break my ankles? Is it the numbness I can’t handle? Do I wanna feel this badly?
Or do I just want proof that this body is really mine?
I should shower.
So I go into the shower and scrub my skin until it’s red and my finger tips are all wrinkly.
Until the mirror is clouded from the steam and the heat is overshadowing the cold feeling inside my bones.
As the water is dripping on my skin every small drop burns like fire on my half healed scars.
As dumb as it sounds, I’m grateful for the pain.
It blocks out every thought or doubt and minimizes me, body and mind to the reception of this feeling. This burning pain.
I don’t think I’m ever more me than when consumed by pain.
When I come out I tie my hair up and start doing my make up. I cover my dark circles up, give my cheeks a tad of color, over line my lips, glue lashes over my own, highlight and conceal and bronze.
Everything to not look like the person I am not.
Like the pale disgusting tired person in the mirror.
I brush and style my hair and I put on perfume and I push my breasts up and I suck my stomach in and force myself into high heels and put a necklace on to distract from my collarbones that stick out.
And then I stare at the woman in the mirror.
I still don’t recognize her.
That’s not me either.
But this person will get guys to bend their necks to look at her.
This person will get nods and nice smiles.
She will get likes on Instagram and free drinks and then she’ll have no choice except believing that she is pretty.
Because if everyone thinks so then that must be right, no?
And pretty people are happy.
Because why wouldn’t they be?
Their life is perfect.
Nobody knows that I’m tired and empty and disgusting because the person in the mirror is not.
She is pretty and unworried and happy.
She is who I wanna be.
Who I’m supposed to be.
I don’t associate myself with this face either. With the glowing skin, the perfect brows and the voluminous curls.
It’s just as much a flesh mask as the other one.
Not more than an avatar.
A hollow case covering whatever I am.
Whatever the real ‘me’ is.
I stare at my reflection.
I am a joke. I am pointless.
Or am I? Am I at all?
Then I smile bright, throw my hair over my shoulder, bend my back through to show my body from the best angles and take a mirror selfie.
I post it on my story and stare at the replies that directly start pouring in.
All the compliments and the propositions and the inappropriate remarks from strangers.
All the validation.
I’m so jealous! I wish I looked like you?
I stare at the message.
Me too.

Three questions to consider:

  1. What is the significance of the mirror in the story?
  2. What does the author mean when writing, “I don’t think I’m ever more me than when consumed by pain”?
  3. How important is social media in determining how you feel about yourself?

Lotte Diry is an Austrian student at the European School of Brussels II. English is her second language, and she speaks it with most of her friends. She enjoys reading, writing, theater and film. She was in a movie when she was younger and would love to become an actor or pursue English literature, journalism or psychology, especially forensic psychology. She enjoys jazz dance and writing “very dark or disturbing stories,” and in school likes Art, Philosophy and English classes.

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School PartnersEuropean School BrusselsWho is this person in the mirror? Can she be me?