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MIRROR MIRROR


I put down my pen and stretch, vertebrae returning to their correct position with a resounding crack. It’s late, well past midnight. The house is still, everyone asleep except for me. The cluttered little room is gloomy now, lit only by a table lamp. The window to my left is dark and in it is the reflection of another room just like mine. In that room, a young girl sits at a drawing table, watching me. Her short hair hangs in unkempt waves which spring wildly out from under a tattered army hat pulled firmly down over the girl’s head. Her face is round, too round, and the white skin is bumped from acne. Mouth set in a short tight line, she watches me, her eyes sagging and bleary from lack of sleep. Her arms lay across the table before her, white and speckled with small brown moles. Her hands, stained by ink, tightly clench a quill drawing pen. She is sitting quietly, as always, a shy, quiet, shadow that fades into the background, avoiding people, never speaking up, always nervous and distrustful of herself. She lives in a world of fantasy, woven by her vivid imagination and many dreams.
I glare at her through the glowing pane. I hate her, this window girl staring so sadly back at me. I hate her. Her shy nature is pathetic. She lacks confidence, boldness and the ability to believe in herself but worse than that, she fears the unknown. She avoids stepping outside herself, taking chances, because she fears criticism or worse, failure to become the kind of person she wants to be.

I continue to watch the girl. She is an aspiring artist I can tell. Around her are mounds of books and supplies, all about art. This is her life, the thing she loves. She wants to become a comic artist, a mangaka, and she works endlessly, striving to become a successful creator. She has the talent and ambition, but artists need confidence, something she doesn’t have.
I shake my head in disgust. Too many times I have witnessed her attempts to come out of her shell and each failure has left her doubting that she can eventually succeed. For her, reality is a struggle. She has lived so long in dreams that she expects the real world to be easy, a simple and straightforward path. It drains her, the never-ending fight to break out of her shyness and to acquire the bold, confident personality a successful artist must have.
The girl in the window is crying now. The tears streaming down her face gleam in the light of the lamp. Such a sad face, such despair she feels. I can’t stand her, this window girl, and yet I understand her. She is in turmoil with herself. A part of her wants to believe that she can cast off her doubt and become strong. She wants to believe that she can master anything she tries and that there is nothing to fear. Yet she can’t quite make herself believe it. She can’t bring herself to accept the struggle, the process of falling in the dirt and having to pick herself back up. She can’t stop retreating farther within herself when she feels discouraged.
Below in the street, a car passes. Its headlights shine against the glass and the image of the girl vanishes. I know now. The loathing I have for the girl in the window is not hate, but fear, because she is me. We are the same and in her I can see all too clearly the weaknesses I despise in myself and only want to forget. She reminds me of what I am, or what I am not, and that is what holds me back.

This is the true problem. I am the shy dreamer. The real world is so different from my fantasies and I struggle to succeed in it. I dread failure, it makes me withdraw inside myself. I loathe the shyness that prevents me from having the confidence I need. I want to be an artist, but I know in my heart that I will never make it if I continue to be ruled by my shyness and fear of the unknown. Yet this is who I am, this is the conflict I am constantly at odds with.
They have darkened my life, these conflicts. They have taken away all the joy I once found in life and the art I love. I want to find it again. I want to love myself and trust in what I know I can do. I need to stop worrying about the world outside and the consequences that may come if I break out of my quiet world. I need to keep trying. In my heart, I know someday I will overcome everything that stands in my way. I will fall many times, but I in the end, I will succeed. I have never let myself believe this feeling; there is nothing logical about it, no concrete proof that it is true. Butperhapss that doesn’t matter. Perhaps, believing in that one, small idea is the first step I need to take.
The lights have faded and again the girl appears. She looks different now. Her tears have stopped and a look of determination is on her face. I watch her, she watches me, two of the same seeing each other over a thin void of glass. She is a reflection, but she is more than that. She is the one who has shown me the truth of what I am and what it will take to become the person I want to be.
I look away from the window. Before me is my table, piled with art supplies. Before me is my work. I am not yet done. The time is late and I am weary, but I continue. The pen is in my hand and in my heart is a new determination. I am the girl in the window, but not forever.





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