The 10-day countdown to my "first look" at 12am on March 25th has commenced. In the past few weeks I've started to feel increasingly anxious about what that moment will feel like, particularly since it's slated to happen at a party with a lot of people around. (Granted, I'm not planning to actually conduct my "first look" in front of the whole party, but even if I do it more privately, I assume I'll be expected to report back!)
Anyway, it hasn't helped my nerves that I've recently had two different nightmares with some obvious wacky-body-image undertones. In the first, I'm wearing a dress that is at least two sizes too small; I can't actually see it, but it's so tight that I'm literally trapped in it. I'm physically uncomfortable, horrified to have so completely misjudged my physical size, and desperate to escape. Yet I can't physically pull the dress over my head because my body is so constrained and my arms are too weak. (Ugh, I'm getting yucky shivers just thinking about it!)
My second dream much is less horrific but similarly telling: in this one, I'm about to look into a mirror and I feel really nervous (weird, huh). I stare at my feet, urging myself to look up, until I finally find the courage to do so. Staring back at me is... A DUDE. Yeah, I'm a dude. Thankfully, I'm an incredibly good looking dude, so I like what I see. But it's still completely weird. While admiring my chiseled jawline and Abercombie-abs, I wonder Why didn't anyone tell me I'm a guy?!?!.
|Oh yeah, Baby, that's me! (image credit)|
A fear of greatly misjudging my body appears to be predominating my subconscious.
The good news is that having these nightmares has forced me to acknowledge the very fact that I'm fearful, so now I can try to process this and deal with it. For example, I've realized that part of my anxiety is rooted in the irony of having a "first look" at all. Building up suspense around the "first look" is in some ways an inappropriate (and false) end to the project. For one thing, looking in the mirror again will actually mark a transition, not a climax. Further, emphasizing the moment of looking at myself in the mirror for the first time feels eerily evocative of a cheesy "Reality-TV Makeover." (Will I squeal with joy? Should I delicately touch my hands to my face to see if it's really me in the mirror? Will my husband say something lame like "Aww man, you look soooo good, Baby! I'm gonna to feel like I'm cheatin' on my old wife with a new lady!" I mean, this is the asinine behavior we've all come to expect from the "first look in the mirror" scene, no?) It feels utterly off-putting to conclude this project by emphasizing my appearance, but I can't bring mirrors back into my everyday life (which, by the way, I am genuinely looking forward to) if I don't start with a first look.
Angst and fear abound, but a few things are helping me:
First, I'm reminding myself that the success of the project won't rest on my reaction to the first look: the days, weeks, months, and years after the will be more telling as to whether I've changed the better. More importantly, unlike a, Realty TV Makeover, my metric for deciding whether I've changed for the better will be based on internal cues, not the extent to which my looks have changed. (Indeed, much of this project has been a calculated physical makeunder, which I'm proud of and hope to continue!) My personal mantra about being "an imperfect role model" is helpful for this: looking super cute isn't as important to my goals as being a happy, unique, and authentic person.
|This button is MINE!|
I'm also reminding myself that I will be in control, and that I'm not responsible for meeting anybody else's expectations. If I want to, I can decide at the last minute to never look in a mirror again (I'm fairly sure that this won't happen, but giving myself the choice feels good!). Or, I can kick everybody out of the room and count my pores for an hour or two until only my closest friends and family are left waiting for me. With luck, I'll have a glass or two of champagne in my system, a cherished friend on each arm, and it will simply be silly and joyful. But, if I start freaking out, I can make up "plan B" on the spot!
Finally, I'm determined to replace my nightmares with a new visualization. I've chosen to visualize the emotional experience of seeing an old friend for the first time in ages. When we greet our oldest friends after a long separation, we're excited to see them in person because we love them. We might notice physical changes, but we don't pass judgement or change our feelings for that person based on their looks; we're just so glad to finally see them. I'm trying to wrap myself up in happy memories of hugging cherished friends and relatives at airports, bus stops, and train-stations. I'm hoping that, by really cultivating these memories, I'll prime my brain to have a similar mindset for the "first look."
Have you every had a wacky-body-image dream? I'd love to hear about it. What's your interpretation? Do share!