It is okay to laugh. That is what I want everyone to know. Because you feel like laughing at a particular situation brought on by my limitations, I will not assume that you are laughing at me. I always feel bad for people that are uncomfortable and appear to experience regret the moment a smile slips on to their face or a muffled, unexpected laugh escapes their lips. For me, it is healthy to find the humor in events that have occurred. I encourage you to laugh with me. For example, prosopagnosia can be awkward at times. When you realize –yet again- that the person that startled you in the mirror was not a stranger invading your home but rather your own reflection, it provides a slight level of discomfort and regret. Still, it is okay to laugh about it. Take the following story for instance, how many people do you think saw this event at a local mall and thought I was a bit odd? How many people do you think wanted to laugh?
Even small alterations of my looks can cause disruption in the slight familiarity that I have in recognizing my own face. I quickly became aware that I should not alter my looks too drastically within a short amount of time. I truly gained an understanding of this on a day I had my hair cut, colored and styled. As I left the salon in the mall, I realized that a lady was walking too close to me. She was close enough that I felt my body space was being invaded. Our eyes quickly met. I moved away and she did, too. But out of the corner of my eye, I realized she was still following me. Soon we were walking in-step too close together again. At some point, she was so close that I felt her shoulder brush against me. I swatted my hand at her. It was then that my hand hit the mirror. That was not some lady walking too close to me. Rather it was my own reflection in the mirror! I stopped and stared. She, I, looked so different. The body shape was the same, but it was as if I had never before seen myself from the shoulders up. It is a moment that is hard to capture with words. There was absolutely no self-recognition! Yes, it was this precise moment that I learned to never make drastic changes. For days, I spent time looking in the mirror trying to find at least one noticeable feature in the face that was looking back at me.
Because of events like these, I rely heavily on other people’s comments and opinions. Never before did I care what people had thought about my hair or my clothes. Now I hang on every word that may be said about how a new shirt brings out my eyes, or how the length of my hair makes my facial features look better or worse. It is not so much that I crave to please these people; rather, I yearn for the chance to see what they recognize as the consistent beauty I can no longer easily perceive.
No, I do not always recognize the person in the mirror looking back at me. I no longer make drastic quick changes to my appearance. And now, I always make sure that the person walking too close to me is not preparing to swat at me when I swat at them. After all, it would be a comical error to push away from myself yet again in a crowded area! I know that I chuckled. It is okay if you do too! 😀