By Melissa Proulx
We all have irrational fears. For some, they involve somewhat understandable things, like heights, snakes or the darkness. For me, it’s mirrors.
According to an article in The Atlantic from Oct. 31, 2014, the psychology behind this might not be as easy to explain as some might hope.
“Fear of things that might actually hurt us, like the flu or smoking, is understandable and healthy,” author Olga Khazan wrote in her article. “It’s the phobia of things—snakes, sharks, the youth—that pose virtually no threat at all that’s more puzzling.”
For some fears, Khazan said they can be attributed to political ideology, low levels of education or an inherent love of true crime stories.
But armed with these potential sources, I’m not exactly sure how to explain myself.
I don’t know when it all started, but I want to say it was sometime around fifth grade. I vaguely remember being told of the old “Bloody Mary” fable, where if you said her name three times in a row with the lights off, she would come back for revenge.
I might have been young and impressionable then, but it’s a fear that still haunts me from time to time, particularly when the powers gone out but I still need to brush my teeth to get ready for bed.
At 21 years old, you can find me in those moments with my toothbrush in one and a Louisville Slugger in the other, though that would never protect me from a ghost, realistically.
A girl can hope, right?
Despite this fear, I find myself making up for the missed opportunities to look at myself all the time. I am chronically guilty of taking a peak at my hair, outfit, etc., when I walk past windows or any sort of reflective service.
The image that I see is never clear, sometimes no more than an outline. I can’t see any specifics of my face.
As I write this, I’m sitting on a bus and it’s nighttime. A quick peek to my right shows half of my illuminated face from my computer screen and my large eyes have a sheen. I can see my fingers flying across the keys and the profile of my nose that seems smooth and dignified.
Before, whilst riding on the subway in Boston, I had found myself doing the same thing. I had been standing, so I was able to get a full view. My legs looked like two dark lines, a break where the top of my foot peeked out over my wedges. My curly brown hair looked like a hovering cloud encircling the whites of eyes that stared back at me.
It was weird, almost inhuman.
This is how I see myself all the time. A faded representation of myself because I’m unreasonably terrified of a piece of glass that could show me everything in great detail.
It’s an irrational fear at worst, but a safety measure, a method of protecting my ego at best. Regardless of what it is, I will continue to test the waters with the safety of windows and their watered-down reflections.
Don’t let a fear keep you from seeing what’s really there, irrational or not.
Melissa Proulx is a TNH staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @_mcproulx.