I stood in the mirror, turning my head to the right just slightly.
The side of my nose bore a small mark where a metal stud had just been. During a particularly enthusiastic nose blowing session, it had fallen loose. I’d gotten the new facial bedazzlement (…what? It’s a word) just five months earlier.
After quitting 12+ years of corporate America, about to hit the open road, I had steeled my nerves and done yet another thing I’d always been too scared to do.
Now, happily settled in Oregon, 3,000 miles from my New Jersey hometown, I reconsidered my reflection. As tiny as it was, the nose stud had been a booming echo of my inner state. It had symbolized the version of myself I’d tried so hard to hide – or at the very least, keep subdued. The independent thinking, rebellious, stubborn adventurer.
When I had first gotten the piercing and had looked in the mirror, I had nearly cried.
Five months later, I turned my head back and forth once more, staring at my bare nose, remembering the panic I’d felt in April, while roadtripping in Canada.
“I took my nose ring out to clean it and I can’t get it back in!” I had frantically texted to my friend, Sandy.
“I hate to break it to you, Jules,” she had immediately replied. “But you’re just going to have to shove it in.”
After a tearful 30 minutes in the bathroom, I’d finally gotten the nose ring back in place. I’d taken a few deep breaths, attached to this ‘other’ thing that I had been sure was a critical part of The Real Me.
I stared at my naked face, hit by the exact same thought as when I’d first gotten the piercing.
I didn’t need it anymore, I suddenly realized. I didn’t need an outward symbol to acknowledge my newfound badassery. I was an independent thinking, rebellious, stubborn adventurer. No piece of jewelry could outshine my current lifestyle. My day to day choices, at long last, represented the authentic me.
…Or maybe I’m just really fickle.
How do you (or have you) express(ed) the ‘real’ you?