Have you looked at yourself squarely in the mirror? I look away than remember to lock eyes with myself. Depending on the day, I decide how beautiful I am.

It’s so strange to see an image of yourself. It should be familiar but you’re flip-flopped. It should feel like love, all the time. But it’s not.

There were times I didn’t love the way I looked a lot. Other times I’ve thought how stunning, as if surprised. At 13, I liked myself some. At 30, I also liked myself some. I am more confident now, but still have so much more to learn, despite my experiences.

Over last winter’s transition into spring, I would look at the contrast of my shadow against the sidewalk. And I’d smile at my shadow. I don’t know why. Maybe I just liked the confirmation I existed.

I’ve heard of light seekers like myself, but more recently, I recently came across the term: shadow work — the idea that there is an unconscious darkness that lurks within and follows you as a part of you, sometimes sabotaging you. The work is done in acknowledging and diving deep in the depths so you can continue to embrace and open your light. The varying degrees of shadows throughout my life have been feeling doubtful, anxious, lonely, dependent, nostalgic. And then there’s the mirroring of not liking something in others because you don’t want to see it in yourself: negativity, unworthiness, judgment, frustration, indecisive, etc. I’ve been thinking through those, actually sitting with those feelings, trying to outline the why. Then I can figure out my blindish spots and turn a corner, open a door.

I had a growth spurt as a teenager and didn’t grow taller again. So in many ways I am the same girl in a slightly bigger body. As an adult I felt alarmingly aware in the quiet, the solitude and the dark, but I am no longer afraid and instead curious. I embrace my shadow as a silent friend.

Originally published at konakafe.com