What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you focus on the light, or on the shadows? On what’s there, or what’s missing?

Your answer might depend on a mixture of your upbringing, who your role models are, and your personality. It definitely depends on practice, too.

A few years ago, I quit a toxic job and decided to take six months off. To make sure I didn’t mope around, I booked a solo trip to Kenya for the day after my last day in the office. The bulk of my adventure revolved around spending time at a place now called Loisaba Conservancy, where I would be doing horseback safaris every day (and as a bonus, helping them train young horses – but that’s a different story).

Right after the propeller plane landed on the dirt runway, I was welcomed by my Masai guide. He drove me to the main lodge in a superb and rugged Landrover, pointing out all sorts of wild animals along the way. “Look, a dik-dik!” and then, pointing to the right “A bird of prey!”. Even following his cues, I saw nothing.

I blamed all the time spent in front of a computer, and felt like I was failing my solo adventure just a few minutes in!

Over the next ten days, I went out for hours every day on horseback, and often indulged in a sunset drink where my guide took me to different lookout points all around Loisaba.

A few days in, I was the one spotting giraffes, elephants, antelopes, and even dik-diks, as often first as not. What a revelation!

I realized that I was rewiring my brain, teaching my eyes to see things they had until then never seen or known how to identify. The best bit was that when I went on safari again three years later, I impressed my brother and husband with my animal spotting skills. Practice is the groundwork for success.

The same applies to life, and to how you see yourself.

If you grew up with parents who constantly pointed out your shortcomings, odds are those are what you will find glaring back at you any time you look in the mirror.

With intent, you can change that. Start a gratitude practice, and include something positive about yourself in every list you make. Challenge yourself not to say “I can’t” or “I’m not” but to formulate things positively. Take time every week to think about what you did well.

Going a step further, project yourself. What do you want your life to be like? What do you want to see when you look into the mirror? What would you do, if you knew you would not fail?

As we approach the end of the year, the time is ripe for reflection. Do not lament the cold, or bad weather. Use the opportunity to look in the mirror and start becoming the person you have always wanted to be.



 Shahnaz Radjy is an adventurer, a foodie, a bookworm, and a horse-lover. As a freelance writer, aspiring farmer (who now has goats!), and eternal optimist, she shares some of her thoughts and adventures on her blog, via Medium, as well as on Instagram.

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