This is an emergency.
For too many days in a row I have woken up with mean stories repeating in my head. You know what I mean. The stories accuse me of not being who I want to be or maybe just saying something stupid the night before. They convince me that others don’t love me as much as I love them; they make me wonder if I will ever allow myself to be truly happy even though I work my ass off at it, all day, every day. I work and I strive and I achieve and I dream and I give and I give and I give…
Then I wake up feeling depleted and like nothing will ever be enough.
I am not one of those girls who made the “duck face” on myspace and thought she looked cute. You won’t find me taking pictures of myself in the bathroom of a club, angled 45 degrees to the side with my hand on one hip. I have almost no pictures of me as a teenager because I wouldn’t let my parents take them and I destroyed so many that were taken over the years. I am told I have a nice smile but when I turn the camera on now I see how my face crinkles up or the way my teeth seem too big or the fact that my mouth goes crooked… So I make the “Mel Face” (an Elvis sneer, really), call it a #selfie and post it to Instagram. Really. Why bother.
When you see me post a picture of myself that is actually nice or calm, where I’m not laughing my ass off or sneering or cropping it so only my eyeball appears, I am practicing. I am looking at myself, holding my own gaze and waiting. I wait for the mean stories to unfold. The criticism and the fear pass through me in a matter of seconds or minutes but it can feel like an eternity. I walk around the house waiting for the light to hit me the right way. I smile, it seems forced. I wait. I smile a little less, a little more. I wait. I laugh. I think “This is effing ridiculous.”
At some point I see my eyes relax. My face softens. I recognize a truth within myself. I see my spirit start to emerge from behind the cold armor of fear and pain. I see my heart in my eyes. And then I take the picture.
I usually don’t post them. But for 30 days I will. Mainly because, like so many of us, I struggle with the idea of being seen exactly as I am.
I learned the art of self-love selfies (and self-care in general) from my brilliant friend and coach Hannah Marcotti. She is always running outstanding online programs and live events. I know I mention her just about every time I blog. If you know her you know why.
If you would like to join me, I am on Instagram and Twitter as @melmulligan
I will be using the hashtag #selfloveselfie
Melissa Mulligan is the owner and head of Artist Development at MMVS: Melissa Mulligan Vocal Studio in Connecticut, New York, California and online. Her studio offers private voice, songwriting, piano, guitar and music lessons, group lessons, workshops and online programs. For more information visit http://www.mymmvs.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to tip my hat to my brilliant friends (and coaches) Hannah and Mara, who believe we need self-care Emergency Kits for days, weeks, and lunar cycles like this.