Who is That in the Mirror?

transgender-photo In the last 20 or so years, more than a few times I’ve caught a glimpse of myself as I quickly passed a mirror and was startled. It’s that thing of time: I feel the same as I did when in my 30’s, but what greets me in the mirror nowadays is not what I would see in that mirror 20 years ago. Startled, surprised, momentarily shocked, that mirror warrants a second glance. Looking hard, critically, I see the remnants of what the mirror beheld in the days of old, then I come to terms with the current reflection. Yes, it is still me staring back from the mirror, albeit older, much older.

I’ve never shared this bit of weirdness with anyone before, so I can’t be sure if it’s something that is common – or not. You see, I live so much in-the-moment that I probably give new meaning to the “Space Case” continuum.  Regardless, it is from this perspective, unique or not, that gives shape to certain reactions of mine.

Yesterday, toward the end of the day at the end of two harrowing weeks of overtime and running all out, an older woman sat at my desk and launched into her story. She was relatively tall, large, and had a very large head topped with teased, hairsprayed hair. She wore a blue, sort-of smock top over black, yet it remained her very large head and face that kept me startled.

Working in the deli of a local grocery store, she had said to a coworker, “If you step it up, I’ll split the $1,000 with you,” meaning if the coworker would steal something worth stealing from the store, she’d keep quiet about it if the booty was shared. The coworker took it as a threat and started spreading around this woman’s medical history.

Doing my job as I was there to do, I listened and questioned to frame her story in a perspective that would be conducive to the laws in question. In the end, she said the store manager told her, “Let me do you a favor and terminate you.”

beatieoprah_sp_lg Staying still, I continued to listen, and she eventually explained that her medical history was sex-change surgery and called herself transgendered. My impression was that she was completely consistent with her expressions and body language and solid with her self identity. I was talking to a person that was intelligent and balanced, interesting and even. There was none of the overly dramatic demonstrativeness of a gay person; her displayed emotions were consistent with the situation she was describing. She was fired from her minimum wage job, not because of the job she did, but because of who she was.

So, I wonder. What does she feel when she catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror? Just how much of what is seen in a mirror is a reflection of who and what we are? I always stress congruence, being on the outside what exists on the inside, to be true blue. That is what opens up an infinite world of experience, expression and creativity.

This body is only a vessel to carry us through a lifetime of learning and growth. There are no differences between us - until we pull our pants down - and it's still only a minute fraction of all that we are.

So, look in the mirror only when you need an update on how well you're doing in the True Blue department. The rest just doesn't matter.


  1. Back in my 20's I used to think that I needed to be so perfectly groomed before I headed out the door. Hours were spent making sure that my hair, skin, nails were in the best condition possible. Shoes and accessories matched any outfit I was wearing that day. Even after all that preparation I felt so horribly insecure inside. It was as if I wasn't really happy trying to make an impression on the world. Probably because I wasn't all that impressed with the world I was trying to impress?

  2. Me too. It drove me nuts to feel so insecure. I was and still am so critical of myself that I don't bother looking in a mirror at all after mascara goes on.

    I hadn't thought about that, that the world itself is unimpressive. Hmmm...

  3. Theresa, I think what you have written here is very much in line with Mahatma Gandhi said, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." Being congruence is what I have thought to be most important too. During my younger day, I had used a nick 'mirror' so that I can remind myself to conduct myself in line with my values.

  4. People are often good mirrors too. You can judge by their reactions to you whether you are being true, inside and out together. Congruence also allows you to put aside your own ego so that you can be a mirror for others.