There is one day of the year where parents win the battle of what to wear, brushed hair, and washed faces. Picture Day. It's the day everyone in elementary school panics, making sure the kids get their pictures snapped before they head to gym or recess, so they don't muss up their appearance for the day.
Recently, my school experienced our annual picture day. 400 shiny, smiley faces, all dolled up, patiently waited for their class to be called. Interspersed between the class photos, teachers and staff members slipped in, cringing as they sat on the stool in front of the back drop, waiting for the camera flash to pass, and comparing this year's picture with the pictures of colleagues nearby.
This year marked the 30th school picture in a row. In a row. Yup. I've been in school since I was in kindergarten, and without missing a year, my picture has been taken every year since. All of elementary school, all of junior high, all of high school, all of college, and since I went straight from college to the classroom, I truly never missed a year.
Part of me wants to have all of those pictures in my hands right now, so I can line them up and compare how adorable I was as a child, to how absolutely and completely anti-adorable I am as an adult. It would be a great excuse for a beat-the-crap-out-of-me session that could span many hours. Productive? Nope. But likely exactly what would happen should I get my hands on all 30 pictures.
Another part of me wants to compare the last 12 years worth of pictures, all my years in the classroom as a teacher, and see what changes I notice. Unfortunately, that will also result in a less-than-pleasant me-bashing experience.
Like many recovering from eating issues, appearance is a sticking point for me. I whole heartedly believe the lies I tell myself - that I am hideous, a monster, a mirror-breaker, that my appearance makes me impossible to befriend, much less love.
I know they're lies, logically. My therapist reminds me that they are lies I tell myself, and that I've been telling them to myself
for so long, I now believe them, even though they logically don't fit. I know that. I mean, I head into the grocery store and no one avoids me in the aisles. I walk into school and no one - kids included - run from me. I guess I don't look that bad outside, even if that's how I feel on the inside.
This year, picture day was a very reflective one. Looking at my picture, I kinda didn't recognize the person looking back at me. That person is put together, coordinated in dress, a warm smile, and wrinkly eyes that show laughter. That person looks like someone who knows what they're doing. It looks like someone who can take charge and accomplish things.
Which is what I kinda do.....
So while it IS most definitely my picture, and this IS what others see when they see me..... what's it gonna take for me to see the "me" that they see? What's it gonna take for me to shut down the lies, once and for all, and replace them with truths? Something has to change. And while picture day might not ever be a favorite day, one day, hopefully, I will look at my school picture and go "oh, yeah, I like that person!"
Thankfully, I have a long career ahead of me, with many more picture days to practice!