I caught a glimpse of my entire body in the mirror yesterday morning. I don’t often look at myself as I get into the shower, but yesterday, I wanted to check the back of me. A few years ago, I had a mole removed from my lower back since the nevus had had the possibility of turning into melanoma. So now, I check my skin regularly (all of it), and sometimes, I see what’s happening with the scar. (The surgeon did a great job; I can barely see evidence of the excision.)
But yesterday, I saw the anterior side of me first and paused. I looked at my boobs, which sag more each and every day; the line of rippled skin around my belly that never goes away; and the way my hips have shifted since having kids. The muscles of my arms are no longer as toned and taut as they used to be when I lifted multiple toddlers and pushed around strollers. Even my legs have changed. I never looked like a super model, but I have to say this: a middle-aged body isn’t always that great to look at.
So the trick then is to stand back and take off my glasses. Once I did that, the blurred edges covered any self-perceived inadequacies, and I found myself smiling at my reflection (I can see well enough without my spectacles to recognize a grin). And what I realized is that sometimes, the best way to look at things is by not looking at the details but instead by focusing on the big picture.
I tell that very notion to my students all the time. Perhaps I need to listen to myself a little more often.