This personal essay of mine appears in the current issue of Bella Grace magazine. With the editor’s permission, I am sharing it here with you. Hope you will enjoy it! Consider picking up a copy of the magazine at your local bookstore to see the creativity of many other writers and photographers too.
My Selfie in Words
I have never taken a selfie.
It’s partly on principle, and partly because – well – I don’t have one of the fancy phones that make it easy. I did try one time just for the heck of it, but I kept cutting off part of my face no matter how I angled the phone. I gave up. Honestly, I could just look at myself in the mirror anyway. Even if I could take a good one, I’m still a little old school. I did draw a self-portrait on my Kindle not too long ago with my finger, using a sketchbook app. I thought it turned out cute, especially considering that I drew it with my finger.
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” – Walt Whitman
A selfie is a quick version of self-expression, a way to capture yourself in the moment. Personally, I still prefer the slower versions like an artist’s portrait or a long poem. I would rather write than snap a picture of everything, even though I know there can be magic in photos too. Yet, some of the senses are missing, no matter how hard you look at a selfie.
A picture can’t capture the clean scent of my toddler’s hair after a bath or the softness of his cheek when his mommy kisses him. A picture can’t bring back the smell of spicy cologne that my husband wore when we were first dating or the nervous flip-flop feeling in the pit of my stomach when we went on our first date.
Life unfiltered: a carpet cluttered with Lego blocks and wooden trains that have collided off course, a kitchen sink filled with dishes to be rinsed and nested neatly in the dishwasher, a Sheltie on the floor wearing a red splint because he broke his front leg (long story), our flat screen television resting on a makeshift stand while we wait for the real stand to be delivered, a full time mom and part time master’s degree student in her thirties trying to make it to the gym in her Prius, a husband going to work early in the morning and coming back late at night to scoop up his son and say his favorite greeting of “hi dear” to me.
When I think of these days, “hi dear” will ring in my memory. My son’s chant of “car, car, car” – his favorite word – will ring there too, like a remix.
I have seen some creative selfies. I saw some selfies from a woman who drew elaborate pictures on her bathroom mirror and stepped into them to snap a photo. I admired her creativity. Most of the time when I’m behind a camera, I’m taking photos of my husband and son. I try to get my husband to take a few photos of my son, Carson, and I together so that when he looks back, he will know that, yes, mommy was on the vacation too.
My identity is me, but it is also my family. Right now, a selfie looks more like a family portrait. It looks like diaper changes, the high chair, play dates. It looks like the toy police car that Carson drove up to the manger scene under the Christmas tree so many times last year that it started to seem intentional.
If I could paint a self-portrait, it would look like Russian nesting dolls. Nestled inside of this mom is a young girl who grew up on a farm, raised rabbits for 4-H, took walks in the cow pasture after school, went fishing, read voraciously, and didn’t yet feel self-conscious when she spoke her mind.
The next nesting doll would be a teenager who was on the yearbook staff, who drove to work as a restaurant hostess after school, who had dates to homecoming and the prom, who went to the movies with her best guy friend a lot, who graduated in the Top Ten, who read magazine articles about how to be appealing. I wish I could tell her to ignore those articles and just rest in her own worth.
Another nesting doll would be a newspaper reporter in her early twenties, driving around in her little Jetta with a “News Girl” vanity plate on the front. She was listening to J-Lo or Christina Aguilera and singing along as she drove out to different interviews. It was the first time she could walk down to the coffee shop for a chai latte every day and afford a fancy brand of shampoo. She felt like life was a big adventure, and every day was different. I’m still proud of that person.
Now, as a mom, I feel like I’m experiencing the part of my own life that I can’t remember. I’m experiencing it vicariously through my son. I can’t remember what it was like to be a baby or a toddler, but I see his sense of awe in the world, and I’m sure I had that too. I still have that sense of awe as I watch him. I see the magic of learning, the beauty of life itself. So, this is me. This is my selfie, in words — a work in progress. What does your selfie look like, in words?
Thank you for reading!
P.S. Since the time that I wrote this, I did take a selfie with someone else’s phone once (wink, wink).
Copyright 2015. Printed here with the permission of Bella Grace.