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Mirror on the wall, what do you see?

August 30, 2015



When I turned fifteen, I became increasingly obsessed with my looks. My lust for perfection was not only putting pressure on me, it was also derailing me from the things that matter. Prior that, I had spent all my life being “one of the boys”, playing hide-and-seek in the woods, climbing trees, feeding our dogs, milking cows and riding horses. All of a sudden, I cared about staying thin, looking pretty and smelling nice. It was as though an alien had taken over my life, my brothers and I instantly grew apart. My family wasn’t enjoying this new me, neither was I. I don’t know if they knew this but, I was just as confused as everyone about my new-found personality. I became incredibly moody, emotional (for no reason) and in many ways, I became selfish. I remember one Friday my mother gave me her card to buy clothes for my little brother who was going on a school trip but I selfishly used some of that money to purchase clothes for myself and justified it to my mother (Although she never said much about my stunt, I felt my mother’s disappointment. That was one of those days I broke her trust). I was a typical teenager; everything was about me!

As my relationship with my family members deteriorated because of my attitude, I turned to friends, magazines and TV shows for relevance and importance. My parents tried reaching out to me on various occasions to no avail. Although we all lived under the same roof, I kept to myself, I barely spoke to anyone at home. I’d spend hours planning outfits (not that I went out much, they wouldn’t allow me to), watching TV, writing in my journal or simply doing my homework. Oh, by the way, I hated being interrupted from this “important” work. Even then, my parents respected me enough to grant me some space.

In the midst of all that unpleasantness, something happened that year that I had never given much thought to until recently. My mother decided that it was time to renovate our home and so our humble abode got a fresh look which we all appreciated (and it gave us something to talk and be excited about). A few days before completion, the guys who were working on the house accidentally broke our full length bathroom mirror into a million pieces. I was (obviously) deeply upset by this. Although they offered to replace the mirror, my mother kindly declined and insisted that we hardly used that mirror. I was livid because (I believed she knew that) my hours were spent in front of that mirror. These guys had officially gotten away with a crime in my books. But my mother is not the kind of woman one argues with so I cut my losses and accepted defeat. I had to settle for the two dressing table mirrors in the house (yes, we had dressing tables then and no, the mirrors were not big enough, a teenage girl’s heartache).
A few weeks later, my mother presented me with a gift for my birthday (sadly, it was not a mirror) and with it came a card that read, “You are beautiful because you’re my love”. The other words were easy to miss because they were printed in a small font, but what stood out was the word “Love”, written in bold capital letters. Guess where my mother stuck that card? Where the bathroom mirror used to be. I didn’t know whether to smile at her sweet gesture or to be annoyed because she had ignored my request. Secretly, I smiled. I must admit my frustration though every time I rushed to the bathroom to use the mirror only to be greeted by the big “LOVE” on the wall. As the weeks and months went by, that card eventually wore out and was thrown away. We all forgot about it. And we got used to not having a bathroom mirror after that, for some odd reason, that stopped being something we (I mean, I) needed.

It’s twelve years later now and thankfully I’m closer to my family members than ever (and we still don’t have a mirror in the bathroom).
While I was shopping with my mom a month ago, we came across some beautiful paintings and nice wall art, I immediately fell in love with one of the pieces. The piece in particular captured my attention, it was a big, colorful, square board that simply read: LOVE. I bought it at once. And it fitted perfectly in our bathroom, in the same spot that once occupied our mirror. And my mother was deeply touched because she had always wanted me to see what she saw when she looked at me- love. Not pimples, scars and imperfection. All I ever saw in the mirror during my teenage years was how much I needed to be less of myself and more of what society told me beauty was. I didn’t see love~ let alone feel it within myself. And my mother helped by adjusting my view, she reflected back to me what she was~ love.
This is something that happened in my life that I didn’t think much of but now that I’m older, I realize its impact on my life and how I see myself. Through her life choices and the grace with which she carries herself, my mother taught me to value, love, and respect myself. She taught me to look at myself through the eyes of truth; and that is, I am beautiful because I am an original, unlike any other. How do you see yourself? Are you aware of what makes you beautiful or are you overwhelmed by your imperfections? Maybe it’s time to exchange mirrors that reflect flaws with those that reflect the truth of your beauty, uniqueness and originality.


Sometimes when life takes its toll on me, I forget that I’m beautiful, strong, smart or talented, and my mother still reminds me that I’m beautiful because I’m her love… I never get tired of being my mother’s love. She’s my mirror that reflects the things I need to see. I hope you have such a mirror!


Love and light to you,
Nono Cele
Tweet me: @Nono_Cele
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