I look in the mirror and I see a young woman. She has a full, heart-shaped face framed with very curly brown hair that has wheat colored streaks through it. The hair is cut at different layers beginning at the cheekbones and ending at the lower back. Her eyes are almond shaped and wide, with thick black lashes made darker by a layer of mascara. The eye color is almost sea-green, the outside of the irises being medium blue fading to green around the pupil. Above the eyes are dark brown brows, obviously plucked and shaped into a severe arch with a faint scar barely visible through the right brow and across the eyelid. Below the eyes is a small nose, slightly crooked from being broken. Light brown freckles cover the bridge of the nose and spread out to lightly cover her high cheek bones which are slightly pink at all times. A few small moles are on the left cheek, and if you connect them the right way they look almost like a backwards check mark. If you look close enough at the right cheek, a pale scar is visible just below the outer corner of the eye, but it looks like a row of closely gathered freckles. Below the nose is the full-lipped, vaguely heart-shaped mouth. The lips are pink, the bottom one slightly fuller than the top, the outer corners turned slightly up to give it a constant smirking look. When the mouth is smiling, I can see perfectly straight white teeth and a barbell through the tongue that has the image of Tigger on it. The skin on her face is a light beige color, slightly darker on the nose but more pink across the cheeks. There are no visible dry patches or blemishes.
The person described above is obviously me, or at least the physical characteristics of my face. I am a twenty four year-old woman, the mother of three beautiful little girls, a nursing student at CSCC, and the oldest of two children. I am my stepmother's only daughter, my stepfather's third daughter, and the only daughter that either of my parents sired. I am blood sister to my younger brother, stepsister to my step-dadís three children, and adopted sister to far too many people to count. But this isnít really how I identify myself as a person. When I think of me, I think of a compassionate and honest person, someone who is nice to people even when it isnít necessary, someone who will listen to a friendís problems and try to help them even when my own problems are tearing me apart. I see intelligence in myself, not just the kind that can be learned from books but the common sense that most people seem to be lacking in this day and age. I have an insane love for reading that was cultivated by days spent inside alone while all the neighborhood kids were out running around and causing trouble, too cool to hang out with the "geek girl" for fear of the dorkiness disease catching.
I think that much of the way I behave now towards people comes from being the "outcast" when I was growing up. I am fiercely independent, almost to the point that I hate asking for help even if I desperately need it. When youíre left on your own you tend to get accustomed to fending for yourself and if other people try to step in and help or (god forbid) take charge, it makes you hostile. One very good aspect of that though, is that I learned to be my own person and not follow the crowd just because "everyone is doing it". I am capable of making my own decisions and take an odd pride in the fact that when I make mistakes they are my mistakes, not someone elseís. The worst part of being independent are the defenses that I have developed against people -- and myself if I really want to get into it -- to keep from being hurt. Sarcasm is almost second nature now; I have a joke for everything, no matter the situation and many times itís inappropriate, but I canít stop it. My mantra is "You can either laugh or cry, and Iíd much rather laugh". Sometimes I worry that this isnít a good philosophy to have on life because it can keep me from really seeing whatís going on or from really admitting to myself that I have feelings about certain things, be they good or bad. In protecting myself Iíve become in a way emotionally detached from the people who are outside of my family and close friends. I donít like it because itís in my nature to care about other people and shutting them out makes me angry with myself. But I either canít or wonít do anything to change it.
I am definitely a person with a lot of drive and ambition in my life, though the things that Iím driven to do have changed quite a bit between the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" stage and now. I always wanted to be an artist and poet, always wanted to do something with my creative side. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table with a pencil and a sketch pad drawing the covers for every Disney movie I owned and thinking to myself "this is what Iím gonna do when I grow up". I spent the years from twelve to seventeen working to attain that goal, taking every art class that my high school offered then transferring to Eastland Career Center for their commercial art program. One of my few proud moments from high school was the day I received state certification in commercial art after two years of extremely hard work. I even received nearly a full scholarship to Columbus College of Art and Design.
My biggest regret is not actually attending CCAD, choosing instead to work to support myself and my daughter when I found out I was pregnant with her but also having to because I strapped myself down to a man that wouldnít work to support us. Iím proud of myself now for deciding to go back to college and get the education I need to take care of my family, though that is still laced with disappointment that it took me so long to get that man out of my life and get myself on a good path. When I look back at the seven years that I wasted of my life I feel sad and angry because I refused to get myself and my girls out of a horrible situation; and worse that I know that I allowed myself to be weak when I had the ability all along to change my life but I chose not to. Now Iím taking the classes that I need for a career that Iím not even sure that Iím going to enjoy so I can support my family the way that they deserve to be supported.
Knowing all of that, the way I defend myself and the things that Iíve been through, I have a hard time understanding why people see me as they do. Most of my close friends and family would tell you that Iím smart, funny, sweet, talented, and giving. They see beauty inside of me where I canít, strength where I choose to ignore it. They come to me with their problems because they know that I will listen and give advice where I can, or just be the shoulder that they need to cry on. Iíve actually had people tell me that Iím the only person that they can talk to because they know that I wonít judge them or think differently of them after saying what they need to say. When people are around me they are generally laughing and having a good time because Iím doing what I can to keep everyone in a light mood so that the discussion doesnít get overly serious; but they donít know thatís why I behave so silly. No one ever really looks past the surface deep enough to see that the jokes are a facade to keep myself from getting too depressed when I actually take the time to analyze my life.
I have no enemies, of that I can be grateful, but I also have very few close friends. At least one of those friends would describe me as naive and too trusting, while the others would swear that Iím an excellent judge of character. All of them see me as this talented artist and writer, the one who can take things that they want to say and turn it into some poetic blurb or take their family pictures and sketch out a detailed drawing that they can frame a gift to one of their family members for a birthday or Christmas. Most of them would also say that I have my head in the clouds more often than not, day dreaming or pulling words out of my head to make images to share with others. They wouldnít be wrong to think that way.