Ella’s Very Bizarre Relationship With Mirrors

The readers have spoken, and with a clear majority of 66.67%, my very bizarre relationship with mirrors won tonight’s post competition.

I have to admit that I am the sort of person who looks at themselves in mirrors a lot. Like a lot, a lot. But it’s never been because I’m checking my hair or makeup.

Mostly, when I look in the mirror it’s to make a silly face. For example, a few months ago, I decided that I wanted to be able to raise one eyebrow independently from the other in order to expand my repertoire of goofy expressions. Of course like with any new expression, I need to strengthen the facial muscles so that I can do it in the most exaggerated manner possible, so every time I see a mirror, I automatically start practicing. I have been caught doing this many, many times, and I must say that people in public restrooms give you funny looks if you’re pulling faces while washing your hands.

However, it must be noted that my tendency to make weird faces at myself is a huge improvement over what childhood Ella would do. I used to–and I kid you not–have this running “tv show” with myself where I would pretend to be a newscaster or a political talk show host.

Of all the times that I have been walked in on in the bathroom, the by far most awkward experience was when someone opened the door to discover ten-year-old me still standing in a towel after a bath, talking about the weather to the mirror. We also have extensive videotape footage of me doing the same thing (but this time fully clothed) complete with “guests” to interview and “graphics” (achieved by holding a copy of the newspaper very close to the camera).

I also spend an awful lot of time observing people very carefully, so I’m always interested to know what I look like when I’m doing different tasks. If I’m writing, I often need to go watch my face or the way I do something in order to depict it properly. It’s akin to getting up to go smell coffee or touch cashmere. Also, I enjoy the humor in how ridiculous I often look, particularly when I’ve bundled to go outside in the winter–I end up looking like puffy marshmallow from the ski jacket and numerous scarves with a very small, multi colored head.

Unfortunately, in our house, the large antique mirror we have at the base of the stairs is in clear view of the window in the front door, which has led to me being caught looking at myself numerous, numerous times, which is always horribly embarrassing. I always feel very vulnerable knowing that I’ve been caught doing something wacky and a bit socially unacceptable. People who look in mirrors a lot are thought to be vain and petty, I don’t consider myself to be either, and I certainly hope that others don’t think I am.

Of course, I am sure that what I am describing is a lot less weird than it sounds in my head. Who isn’t fascinated by the reflection of ourselves. It’s only natural to want to know what we look like, and I am sure that other people enjoy making faces and pretending host weather reports.

One of the best things about being alive is knowing that you are never the only one to feel a certain way. The moment I realized that everyone else is insecure and worried about how the rest of the world is perceiving them and their actions, life got a lot easier. It reminds me of Postsecret, a project where people send in secrets on homemade postcards to a man who posts them on the Postsecret blog every Sunday. He’s always talking about how he receives multiples of almost every secret and how people find solace in knowing that they’re not the only one.

The more I think about that, the more I read, and the more I observe of others, my amount of empathy towards others and comfort with myself only increases. Things like what I do with mirrors are funny, yes, and perhaps a bit abnormal, but they’re never shameful. I like sharing eccentricities and discovering how universal and common they are.

So if you’ve managed to get this far in the post, I’d love to know what you think.

  1. What do you do with mirrors? Do you know anyone else who does the same thing?
  2. What do you think about other people sharing the same emotions and eccentricities about you? Do you think it’s true?

As I only got six votes total on these two polls so far, I’m keeping the voting open for about a week longer. I’d really like to know what people did and didn’t like about my daily posting in 2011, and what they’d like to see in 2012. Finally, you can vote at the bottom for what you’d like to see in Saturday’s post.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.