I see you.
You walk around with your shoulders back, head held high, and a smile on your face. To the outside world, you couldn't be happier. Everything seems to be going your way; your job isn't stressing you out, you're not falling behind in your classes, there are no family problems, you have no regrets, you have a positive attitude about your body type, you have a loving relationship, and your friends think you're thriving.
But that's all a lie, isn't it?
It seems as if your entire world is deteriorating underneath you, and perhaps it is. Your paycheck isn't enough for you to pay bills, so you search for another job even though your existing schedule doesn't allow it. As you finally catch up in your classes, there's twice as much workload that gets thrown at you.
Despite your family's best efforts to stay calm under trying situations, petty bickering still occurs and medical bills pile up - to which you carry the burden; maybe even the entirety of the guilt and fear so no one else has to. Your regrets outweigh all the things you could've and should've done, but there's no turning back time.
You look in the mirror before you get dressed and see all your flaws, no matter the angle or lighting. You cover every stretch mark, the dimples of cellulite, and every body part that jiggles with whatever black you can find. All because black is supposed to be slimming, right? You're involved with a guy, but it seems to be stagnant and that scares you. Not because it isn't going well, but because all your doubt and anxiety tells you otherwise - and of course, you listen and become distant. Your friends, your best friends, that you used to spend all your time with think you're thriving. They see your Instagram and Facebook posts and think that you're still smiling and making jokes as usual. If only they knew.
You put on this facade because you think you are strong enough to carry the weight on your shoulders. For the most part, you can. But eventually, those shoulders that you're holding so high will collapse under all the silent burdens and you'll crumble to your knees.
But no one will see it. You won't allow them to.
Instead, you'll brush it off and act like it didn't happen. You'll maintain your empty smile despite the overwhelming urge to burst into tears. You'll bottle everything up until eventually you take it out on someone who doesn't really deserve it. Instead of apologizing, you'll remain silent as you try to justify your actions, despite the fact that you know you're in the wrong.
You'll go home and turn on some music. The genres jump between accurate representations of your emotions and uplifting soundtracks expressing how you should feel. Instead of a mood shift, you're stuck in the living-equivalent of purgatory. You feel no actual emotion but you still have tears and mascara running down your face. You stare at your reflection; not at your flaws but into your eyes. You look into your soul and wonder where it all went wrong, wondering what you could've done differently in every scenario. This makes you fall deeper and your chest tightens up and it becomes suffocating.
Eventually, you wonder why you're feeling sorry for yourself; whether it's because you realize you're better than that or because it's not worth it. It depends on the day and the circumstance. Your tears dry up, mascara lines halt where they are, and you look at your reflection in its entirety. You remind yourself that all the situations, stress, and burdens could be a lot worse. They could be significantly heavier.
You let your sadness, rage, and regrets drive you - not to do unforgivable things, but to be your guide.You know how to adjust very well because of your constant interactions, but that enlightens you that the opposite of them exist. They drive you to improve and become stronger so you can achieve them.
You wipe the black smears off your face, fix your hair, and smile at your reflection. It mimics your actions but your eyes still reveal the truth. Regardless, you allow it. No one has noticed the truth in your eyes before, so how would they now? Or maybe they have but don't know how to react or help. But how would you know when you're too scared or overwhelmed to speak up?
You work to maintain that reconstructed smile. You force your shoulders back so they can be a stronger foundation for the impending weight that you'll face, wondering how much you can carry this time. You pick your head back up so you're able to see all the stress and burdens head-on, while also enabling you to flash that smile to any unsuspecting person.
Despite your best efforts trying to hide your pain, I see you.
Despite what you choose to see, I see your beauty, hard work, achievements and success. I've seen your genuine smile, though the occurrences are minuscule. I've seen what you're capable of. I've seen you shine.
I see you when you refuse to see yourself.
After all, I'm your mirror.