Not Today

I apologize if this sounds smug. (Also I should not be second-guessing my writing so much, jeez.)

“You,” the mirror seemed to beckon, “have such tired eyes.”

She stared at her reflection and found she couldn’t argue. She didn’t feel tired today, but it didn’t matter; dark undereye circles were not only prominent features on her face, but permanent ones now, whether she was well-rested or not. She always tried (futilely) to hide them behind her glasses. But today she couldn’t seem to focus on anything else in her reflection but those dratted dark circles.

She blinked. Sighed. Attempted a smile. Her eyes crinkled, and that revealed, lo and behold, the matching set of eye bags that came with her dark circles.

Exhausted eyes,” mocked the mirror.

Stupid mirror. Last week it was the size of her face (too big); the week before that, the shape of her nose (too round); and the week before that, her gums (too showy)… Come to think of it, this was getting old. She’d been battling with her reflection every time she looked in this stupid mirror since she was what, thirteen? She’d probably nitpicked at every body part already and cursed each of them for looking all wrong.

The problem with this fight is that she always felt defenseless. She knew her appearance was not her fault. She knew she was perfectly capable of not caring. But why did it always have to be a struggle to convince herself of that? Why did it have to happen every single day?

Not today, she thought, and stared harder at her tired eyes, flashing back to nights she couldn’t sleep, because as an insomniac, the night has always been when she feels most alive; nights she chose to spend having adventures between the pages of novels; nights she was up watching tv shows and laughing; nights she chose to spend catching up on homework or making reports or studying for exams; nights she had to spend awake being on the graveyard shift at various hospitals.

She smiled at the mirror again, purposely crinkling her eyes so the eye bags show, but feeling triumphant this time. Tired eyes, alright. Ugly battle scars, sure. She lost a lot of sleep, certainly. But that’s because she chose to live and work and enjoy and earn in lieu of rest. And that’s arguably worth celebrating.

“You know what comes with my exhausted eyes, mirror? An adventurous mind. A lifetime of good grades. A hard-earned diploma. And a professional license. So there.”

Not today. She wins today.

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