what i see, kate mcauley, what i see in the mirror, reflection, memoir, honesty, vulnerability, self, ego

What do I see when I look in the mirror?

It’s a loaded question, right? Simple words that when lined up together produce a complex result.

Recently, I was asked to contribute my response for Edwina Dunn’s What I See project – a global initiative to amplify women’s voices.

I accepted without giving it much thought, other than being please to be asked, and went along at the allotted time to record my answer. The result, which you can watch below, is all true. I do see a well-travelled woman who eats well and needs a haircut. And, yes, I have survived a plane crash and a West African arrest.

But these facts are not the first things I see when I look at myself. My responses already tell you a lot about me. I’m a show-off who wants to be both interesting and self-depracating. I smile and giggle and talk about wrinkles. I want you to like me and I want you to think that I’m pretty.

But what do I really see?


Blubber. A woman crippled by a fear of failure. Unwashed hair. A woman who takes on too many projects and struggles to maintain balance. Adult acne. A woman who spends most of her time daydreaming instead of dealing with the real world. A moustache. A woman who may have left it too late to have a baby.

I could go on, but I think that’s enough for now.

It’s a pretty horrible list that makes me sound like all I want to do is cry into my bathroom sink. Rest assured, this has never happened.

There is actually quite a lot that I do like about myself. I’m proud of my work and love what I do. I don’t mind my wrinkles –  probably because I still look young for my age. I have a wonderful husband and loads of love in my life, which doesn’t feel undeserved. I survived a painful childhood relatively unscathed. I have the freedom and opportunity to live the life I’ve always wanted. I’m healthy and predominantly happy.

So, why all the negativity when I look at myself?

I know I’m not alone in feeling like this and some of us suffer from it far worse than I do. People blame the media, parents, peer groups, partners, etc. But we are smart women. Surely, we can find a balance between the positive and the negative? I honestly don’t know where to start on this one, but I’m going to give it a try. Maybe succeeding at this should be the definition of having it all.

How about you? Want to share your story or see other contributions? Click here to find out more. 

It’s now time to pass the baton: Flora Mack at Femusings, what do you see?

© Kate McAuley 2013

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5 thoughts on “reflection

  1. Elizabeth (@Eliza_Do_Lots)

    You really are well traveled, what a wonderful adventure. i’d love to hear more about your arrest! (is that bad?!) I also think your wrinkles are imagined and until you said you were 38 I was wondering how a student afforded to travel so widely and fit it all in – I assumed you were in uni or recently graduated. You’re far more youthful looking than me!

    Wonderful video, you’re a very positive person, I imagine you’re lovely to have around.

  2. Delia

    Wonderfully honest write-up that complements the video perfectly. I just turned 30 and am having all sorts of ‘reflection’ issues… But realised I’m happy with my lot despite my Peter Pan mentality!

  3. the style crusader

    This is really interesting. I suppose they may have been quite shocked if the answer you gave in the video was as honest as the one you’ve given here. It’s so true that the question is quite simple and answering it properly would surely take much longer than a one minute video.

    Hmmm. Very thought provoking. xx

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