by Kristin on March 4, 2011

in five-minute-friday

Last week I tried my first Five Minute Friday post, and really enjoyed it. The idea comes from The Gypsy Mama, and involves throwing “caution (editing, revising, and worrying) to the winds” and just writing your heart out on a provided topic—for five minutes, flat. Today’s prompt is “When I look in the mirror I see…” (Sort of ironic, seeing as how I just wrote about beauty on Wednesday! I’ll take it in a different direction, here.) The timer is set…here I go!


When I look in the mirror I see someone who is more familiar to me than anyone in the world, and who is somehow also a stranger.

I see traces of the little girl who held back suspiciously when grownups she didn’t know very well wanted to smother her with kisses. I see the adolescent who wanted to spend all day reading books—book after book, without end. I also see the teenager who was trying to figure out what love was all about—what the world thought it should look like and what my heart wanted it to feel like. I am that same person, a grownup version of that child, but I am so different.

I also see the confidence of my senior year of high school, finding my place as the yearbook editor and on the tennis team, looking ahead to college and a career in journalism. All I wanted to do is write. But then there’s the girl who has just moved into her dorm room and said goodbye to her parents, completely alone and insecure, not sure who she is anymore or how to find her way. I see that girl in the mirror, too.

Is the person in the mirror the same person who struggled through parenting little ones, and fighting depression without help, and a decade of lonely marriage? Yes and no. Is she the same person who went through her own adult brand of rebellion, before finding her way again, a brighter and more hopeful way than she ever walked before? Yes and no. When I look in the mirror, I see a stranger who is indelibly me.

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  • http://bystreamsofquietwaters.blogspot.com/2011/03/5-minute-friday-when-i-look-in-mirror-i.html Michelle

    Wow, I love that perspective, someone who is more familiar to me than anyone in the world, and who is somehow also a stranger.

    That kind of describes the me I am getting to know as I lay down a lot of fear and what I think others expect, and learn to be me.

    It’s nice to “meet” you :)

  • http://silly-bear.com Sarah@ From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    I think mirror somehow reminds us of all of those former selves who looked in the mirror. Reading all of these great posts reminds of a poem Sylvia Plath wrote called “Mirror.” One of my favorite poems.

  • http://thealchemistblog.wordpress.com Genevieve


  • http://bernthis.com jessica

    there is no way I could write that eloquently in five minutes. Mine would be full of “like” and uh,like,

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

    it IS such a crazy thing to feel like our former selves and still so far removed. on one hand, high school doesn’t even feel that long ago, but then so much has changed in just my last three years.

    LOVE the last line: “a stranger who is indelibly me.” it reminds me, too, that this side of heaven we will always feel like strangers–sometimes even to ourselves.


  • http://lifedownsideup.blogspot.com Nina

    Beautifully written.

  • http://www.drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    When my eldest was in the 3rd grade, I read one of her assigned books with her and was fortuitously (or providentially!) introduced to the writing of Madeleine L’Engle. Somewhere in one of her many books she wrote about the truth that we are always every age we have ever been. SO true – thank you for evoking that truth so beautifully. I liked your 5 minutes very much indeed.

  • http://hollyhousestudio.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I love “completely alone and insecure” paired with the strident posture of maturity. Funny how life, a mirror and five minutes gives perspective. xo

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    Sarah, I’ll have to look up that Plath poem–thanks for the reference!

    Genevieve, thanks!

    Jessica, you could totally write a great post in 5 minutes. My secret is that I think about it for 15 minutes or so before I actually start the timer and write, so I have a plan. Maybe that’s cheating, but I like connecting a direction.

    suzannah, sometimes that whole “stranger” aspect of self is uncomfortable and scary, but it can also be exciting. We have the capacity to surprise even ourselves–we are not carved in stone. Who knows how we’ll be different 3 years from now…

    Nina, thanks so much for reading and letting me know what you thought.

    Diana, I’ve heard that L’Engle quote before, now that you mention it. I think Anne Lamott references it in an essay she wrote about aging (which I quoted in a post about turning 40). So true!

    Jennifer, yes, there’s something about a timer running that leaves no time for being too careful–it helps you get to the heart of evasive things. Also, because I had just posted about beauty, I was taking the whole “mirror” idea in a different direction. I’m glad I did–I think I learned something about myself.