When you take a photo of yourself, life continues on its forward path, but a photo encapsulates a few seconds that will never be replicated. A photo is a permanent seal on a moment when your hair bent a certain way, your skin had those couple flaws, your eyes mirrored the lens, or looked through it, your face was still maturing. Most often, you look back at such photos of your younger self and think I’ve changed so much. Most of the time, that’s what I do. But it’s been 6 years since I took this photo.
And 6 years later, this is still what I look like to me.
Believe it or not, this is actually one photo. The only photoshop I used was to change one half to black and white. Otherwise this is one photo, a self portrait, from college. The left showing the side of me most people see on the outside: Innocence. Soft pink lips. Untouched, curly red hair. A rosary ring. The right shows another side of me that often settles inside. No, it’s not meant to depict a gothic, tortured side, but I’ll admit–though it’s likely obvious–that there is darkness. Black nails and lips. Harsh eyes. Stick-straight, perfectly tame hair. A dark sleeve casting shadows. A lack of color. So…what does it mean and why do I care?
In life, there’s a discovery period, where you likely lose yourself and search endlessly to find yourself again. Most people would say, ya, that’s college. I thought so too. When I took this picture, I was totally that: in college, finding myself, as they say. When I took this picture, I was in a house of a boy I would not marry. When I took this picture, I would scream at the sky for answers. When I took this picture, I hadn’t been to church in months. When I took this picture, I wasn’t alone but lonely. When I took this picture, I was lost. And yet, when I took this picture, I was also good and happy. When I took this picture, I was accomplished and confident, loyal to a fault, and loved. When I took this picture, I was found. So…what does it mean and why do I care?
It means the discovery period never ends. Just when you think you’ve found yourself, grounded yourself on earth, embraced everything you are and everything you’ve become, you’ll wake up lost. Once I got married, I figured yes, I’ve found it; this is who I am. But soon enough, I was out there, looking for myself again. Once I became a mother, I figured ok, this is it; this is truly who I am. And though it is, it’s not all. It’s not everything. The discovery period doesn’t end. There are pieces of yourself still out there waiting to be found. That’s the beauty of being lost. The married mother is no further along in her life than the single woman who lives alone. They’ve just simply found different pieces.
And who knows what pieces are yet to be found.