Thank You, Bad ***** Mirror-Self
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, but a conversation this morning is inspiring me to crank it out. This blog goes out to a friend who has been an inspiration over the years, helping me redefine the way I see myself. Hopefully I can give some of that good energy back somehow!
Last year, I went to go see the movie, Us, with my significant other. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should…I mean, it wasn’t Get Out, but it was still dope. Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie where a little girl wanders into a funhouse full of mirrors. It’s all gravy, until one of her reflections ends up being real. Then ish hits the fan and starts going really left.
Just to be clear, this is not the bad ***** mirror self I will be referencing throughout this post.
I was talking with another friend a few weeks ago, and was reminded that no one can truly see ourselves as others do.
Pretend you are visiting The Grand Canyon. You will only be able to perceive what is within range of your vantage point. Depending on where you stand, you could catch a spectacular view. Similarly, if you bring a friend along, you will likely have two different experiences, even if you are standing right next to each other. The angle will be slightly different, you may have different abilities in your senses, you will probably have different background knowledge, it may be a repeat visit for one of you…you may even be in different emotional states. There are so many factors at play at any given time. No two people will perceive things exactly the same way.
The same thing can be said with how we perceive people, including ourselves. You are the only person in the world who has a front-row view of your whole self, including your inner thoughts, previous experiences, etc. Haunted by past memories of social faux pas? Most people you meet don’t even know or don’t remember. They are more likely to be beating themselves up over their own perceived blunders than worrying about yours. Yet and still, so many of us suffer from….
Psychology Today defines impostor syndrome as a:
psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Many people experience this to some degree. Hill (2019) asserts that this phenomenon is particularly problematic within women of color, who are often systematically marginalized by both race and gender. Experiences definitely play a role in how we may perceive ourselves. If I go deeper into this, it would be a whole new blog post, so in the interest of time, I will keep it moving.
Over and over, in conversations I’ve had with friends and associates, I keep recognizing the signs:
“I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said.”
“Why would people care what I have to say?”
“What makes me qualified?”
Basically, no one can say it like you can. Going back to our Grand Canyon example, nobody is standing in that exact same spot that you are. Even when you leave it’s highly unlikely that someone will stand exactly where you did, facing the same exact way. Even if they do, it might be raining, or maybe the temperature changed. Or a plane may be flying overhead. Or maybe they had a bad day and can’t take in all the beauty. The point is, no one is going to experience things exactly as you have, and some of us won’t even make it to the Grand Canyon in this lifetime, so why not do us all a favor and tell us about it? What makes you qualified to talk about it is that you are there. Don’t tell us what you think your friend is experiencing…tell us what you see.
Still not convinced? This brings me to my next point about…
Our Bad ***** Selves
There’s a show I watch called Insecure, created by and starring Issa Rae. This is a great series, and when I watch it, I can often relate to what the characters are going through (I often joke that they will catch up to me in about two seasons). The title of the show, I’m assuming, refers to the main character, also named Issa, who becomes progressively more self-confident as the seasons move forward. When she needs a pep talk, though, she goes to her bad ***** mirror self. Yes, she talks to her friends, but her ride-or-die is the mirror self. Somebody else did the heavy lifting for me lol…read more about her mirror talks here.
Recently, I just got a spin bike, as the gym is closed during the pandemic. My absolute favorite instructor on the Peloton app is Robin Arzon (@RobinNYC) because the stuff she says during the rides is on point! I do not know Robin in real life, but in my mind, I have nicknamed her The Homie, because doing her rides feel like getting a pep talk from a good friend.
In my opinion, the best Peloton ride of all time is Robin’s 2016 After Dark Ride, where the playlist is sufficiently ratchet, and yet and still, she drops that truth on you. During this ride, she said something to the effect of what I quoted in the screenshot at the top of the post.
“If I’m feeling bad, I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, you’re a bad *****.” — The Homie, 2016
I’m not going to lie. This pandemic has hit us all, and most of us have had some ups and downs. There was one day that felt particularly low, and I decided to take Robin and Issa’s advice and channel my bad ***** mirror self. Lo and behold, it actually worked! I started acting like the bad mirror ***** (LOL), and almost instantly, I was holding my head up that much higher. My words came out more smoothly. My mood was lifted. Fake it til you make it, right?!
Do you have a bad **** mirror self? (Feel free to fill in the asterisks with whatever works for you. If you don’t curse, you can substitute for something equally rebellious.)
I absolutely do, and I have for years. I have been very public about my struggle with shyness over the years (read about it here, here, and here. Oh yeah, and especially here). If we have met face-to-face, unless we have spent a lot of time together, you have probably been dealing with her and not with Sarah. Her name is Sarahdateechur, or if I’m feeling particularly froggy, Dr. Sarajanay (long story for another post). Again, this is kinda like Us, but far less evil.
Everybody has something to share. Everybody. I don’t care who you are. I hate to be cliché, but some of you need to hear this. You are enough. Unapologetically bring your whole damn self to the table and don’t deprive us of everything you have to offer. If need be, let your bad ***** mirror self be your advocate for now.