Dear Younger Me
Today I saw myself, all of myself, in the mirror for the first time in years. I was in the middle of my typical weekday routine – music playing from my phone to fool me into thinking I’m enjoying getting up and ready, rushing from a quick shower to the bedroom in search of clothes, my mind drifting all the while to the shoelaces that need tying, the hair that will be presented to me any moment to be braided, the fact that I haven’t eaten breakfast. Again.
You’ve got all this to come, Younger Me. I know it’s hard to believe that you will be rushing in the mornings, getting up to an alarm, doing eleven things at once. But you will. And you’ll rock it.
As I barreled out of the ensuite into our bedroom this morning, I caught sight of the new full-length mirror on the wardrobe door. It’s been there for a week – positioned with care by my husband so that I can see my whole body at once. It was the first time I had really taken a good look at it. I realised that I had been ignoring my reflection for the past seven days every time I walked past. But there I was.
Wrapped in a brown towel with my ridiculous (but unbelievably practical) teal coloured “turbie – twistie” turban on my head. Water droplets on my shoulders. My face shiny from moisturiser not yet soaked in. I hesitated. I gave myself a sideways glance and checked that the door was closed. I opened the towel.
I’ve resisted buying a full-length mirror for years. Every time my husband brought it up, I shrugged my shoulders and said they were too expensive. But really, if I’m honest, I think it’s because I didn’t want to have a moment like the one I was having right now. I didn’t really want to see myself all at once – where I couldn’t compartmentalise my body and ignore the bits I didn’t like. I had a complicated relationship with eating and my body in my teens and this has influenced some choices I’ve made as a grown-up. We don’t own a set of scales. As parents, we consciously decided not to talk about weight or skinny or fat or pay much attention to the way we look.
But there I was – looking.
This is what I thought to myself.
Okay. So you’re not twenty-five anymore. Thank God for that. Sure, you’re closer to forty than you are to thirty, and that’s a little scary – but you’ll be fine. Stomach isn’t what it used to be, clearly, but you grew two babies in there and lost another one. Arms are scrawny… you could work on getting stronger. Bum – not bad. Might want to get back to pilates in the near future. There’s your tattoo – you haven’t seen the whole thing in years – only pieces of it on your shoulders when you do your hair. It’s still beautiful. No regrets.
Younger Me – you have a really beautiful body. Your sisters may have gotten the thick, glossy hair and the good boobs but you got the shapely legs and nice ankles. You don’t have to worry about your weight. It’s a burden you just don’t have to think about and that makes you very lucky. So stop second guessing those shorter skirts and shorts. You can pull them off. Don’t worry about your small chest. Big boobs look comical on you anyway – trust me, when you have your first baby and wake up one morning with breasts like watermelons you’ll thank your lucky stars for your A cups. You’re small and that can be great. You’re flexible. You can fold into a small ball. Do the harder yoga poses. And when your daughter reaches the age of twelve, you’ll start sharing clothes. Cherish that body of yours. I know you don’t love it now, but you should. It’s capable of amazing things. It can create life. Feed a baby. Comfort a child. Love a man.
That’s pretty much all the advice I have, Younger Me. In all likelihood, you won’t listen to any of it anyway. Listening – really listening, that’s a skill that’s yet to come. Just take care of yourself, okay? Stop eating dairy. Don’t give up running. And for the love of God, get those tonsils out.