the stranger in the mirror

I don’t completely recognise the person in the mirror. This is not most days, it is only some. I don’t think I have changed that much with age, so I am not sure I can blame our good old friend Father Time. Though, I look at photos of a younger me and I recognise her. I know her smile and I can hear her laugh. I still remember her pain as if it just happened. But today, lately, these days, right now… with the change in hair, wearing less makeup, in clothes that are made for comfort more than looks — sometimes, I just don’t know her. I feel most like myself, but I don’t know who she is. And I don’t know what it is about her that I don’t know.

It’s like at some point in the past few years, I stepped outside of myself. There are two parts of me and they are interconnected, holding each others’ hands constantly, but never fully being one. Perhaps I was always like this but I am only now realising there is someone else within the one.

I remember sitting in class at Uni once, in week ten or eleven, really late in the semester. I only turned up because we got graded on the class participation of a group project; otherwise, I was comfortably passing the subject without even knowing the tutor’s face. He hadn’t seen my face before, and he was one of those teachers who put you on the spot on purpose. It was something about my world view and the arts, and I sat back as this different version of myself answered. I told a blatant lie about where I had come from in life, spinning it into an answer I knew he wouldn’t agree with.

Another time, when I went on a date someone and the moment I got there, I could tell we didn’t match and it would never go further than the one date. So I allowed myself to spin little white lies, to make myself interesting in a different way, because it didn’t matter. Or was it because I was protecting myself?

Either way, it shocked me how easily the lies rolled off my tongue. Someone who prides herself pretty well on honesty, and yet, weaving fictitious stories in the small chances I got. In those moments, I questioned whether I knew myself at all.

Looking at the stranger in the mirror, I see wrinkles around her eyes. A small sign of aging. I recognise her, but I don’t know if I am quite her yet. It’s someone who has loved and has lost and continued to wade through even on the days her legs felt stuck in the mud. I am taking my time to catch up to her while trying to connect with the fact that she is me. I am her, the stranger in the mirror.

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