What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you ever stand and face a mirror for no other reason than to see who is looking back at you? What do you see? Is your face the sum of all your experiences, a tale of a life well lived? Do you see the person who went through all those trials and tribulations to get to where you are now? Or do you see every wrinkle, grey hair and unwanted feature that taunts you?

See the ones who didn’t make it

When you stare into the eyes in the mirror, do you curse the dark circles beneath them? Look deeper into the laughter lines at the corners of each eye. Who did you laugh and smile with to make them appear? Do you remember the childhood friends you giggled with in the primary school playground? Teenage companions you stayed up late with, putting the world to rights. Hiding from teachers, laughing at ridiculous jokes only a teen could find funny.

Do you try in vain to cover up the lines and hide the grey hairs that accompany them? Or do you take a moment to think back to those who made you smile who didn’t have the privilege of seeing their own faces age? We’ve all lost people on our path through life. It’s sad to lose a grandparent or elderly relative, but sadder still are the losses that come too soon.

A life ended in the blink of an eye at the hands of a drink driver. Sudden illness when you least expect it. The agonising wait and hope for a recovery that never arrives. One who suffered in silence through mental illness until it all became too much and they took their own life. Every one of them was denied the honour of ageing, of seeing those grey hairs and laughter lines form.

Imperfections make us who we are

Who would we be without our imperfections? Without the stretch marks and saggy skin on my stomach that I hate, I wouldn’t be a mum. If the the laughter lines that give away the age of my eyes were absent, I wouldn’t be a friend.

A little extra body fat around the middle keeps me warm on the wild swims that make me feel so alive. Every scar is a memory. Learning how to ride a bike, and how to fall off. Snorkelling in clear waters above beautifully coloured fish and getting too close to the rocks. Nights out that got a little too raucous. Canyoning, white water rafting, sky diving, caving, kayaking, horse riding. Never saying no for fear of getting injured because eventually the cuts become scars, and scars fade. Leaving only reminders of good times and bad.

I look back at the person in the mirror and put down the makeup. I won’t hide who I have become. Ageing is a privilege. Wrinkles tell a story. Grey hairs, scars, imperfections. They are a part of me as much as the thoughts, stories and memories inside. I think of the ones who didn’t make it this far and carry them with me. Displaying them on the outside for all to see.

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  1. What a beautiful post. I must say I do think this every time someone moans about getting older on social media. Growing old is a privilege and fundamentally if you weren’t getting older, you would be dead. I’m pretty sure most people would choose getting older if they stopped to think about it properly for a few seconds.

    1. Thank you. Yes I feel exactly the same, I keep seeing this on social media and all the products we get sold for ‘anti ageing’. We really should be more grateful for the chance to age.

  2. This is beautiful. It doesn’t bother me to see the signs of ageing in the mirror. I sometimes look at myself and miss the person I used to be before Jessica died, but I know that getting older is a privilege and that even on days when it doesn’t feel like it, life is still a gift that I am lucky enough to have. My dad always used to say “getting older is better than than the alternative” and it’s a philosophy that has stayed with me. I get quite annoyed sometimes when people moan about getting older, especially given that my little girl didn’t get that option x

    1. Thank you. I often think of you when I think about this Louise. Jessica is an inspiration to so many people because she was so full of joy despite all she went through. We can’t moan about getting older when she didn’t have that privilege.

  3. I really struggle with ageing. I find it terribly depressing that every day that passes is another day we can’t get back. I hate the wrinkles I’m starting to get around my eyes. I hate that some makeup I just can’t wear anymore because it makes me look older. I am of course thankful every second, that I am still here and I feel so lucky to be alive, but that doesn’t mean I like my reflection or the fact that I’m getting older and life is disappearing in the blink of an eye. I just want time to slow down a little so we can all have more time. x

    1. Yes I know what you mean about certain makeup making you look older, I notice that too! And yes, it would be lovely if time would be kind enough to slow down a little 😉

  4. This is lovely, Nat. I have spent a lot of time in recent years looking at myself in the mirror, both literally and metaphorically. As I’ve grown older, I worry less and less about what I see. Where once I saw imperfections and regrets, now I just see the traces of experience, mostly good, a few not so good. But I now recognise that I wouldn’t have had some of the best experiences of my life if I hadn’t come through some of the lowest moments first. As the saying (and the Kelly Clarkson song) goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I used to think that was an empty platitude. Now I recognise the truth in it.

  5. Age is a privilege, so true, my nan died at the same age I am now. what a beautiful piece Nat, i need tissues now!