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The transition to Zoom last year hit many of us like a brick wall. I have never once felt so exposed as I have since having to use Zoom for all of my classes. People were able to see me in environments that were supposed to be private — something that was bizarre already — but I also could see myself and that was weird. Sure, seeing yourself in pictures and videos is one thing when you’re taking selfies or filming yourself, but seeing everything you do in real-time is so surreal. To make ourselves more comfortable, people started creating lists of tips, tricks and hacks to make the experience better. One of the hacks is to mirror your image so you look like how you perceive yourself and not how others see you. 

I definitely thought that my unmirrored appearance was not that attractive, so I always kept my image mirrored. However, I had to unmirror my image because I was using a background with text for an interview and the mirroring displayed it backward. The background was crucial for what I was doing so I had to unmirror my image since I did not have time to flip the background image. I had several interviews that day and could not find time to fix my issue.

Seeing myself unmirrored and realizing that was how everyone else saw me in person made me anxiously self-aware. I have problems looking at my reflection and feeling happy with what I see. The un-mirrored video was a nightmare, as you could imagine. 

But that changed as the day went on.

I started finding features that I liked about myself during each meeting and that turned into me thinking that I was actually pretty. The only reason why I disliked the unmirrored version of myself was that I wasn’t used to seeing her on a daily basis. I have kept my Zoom image unmirrored since that week and have found that I was a lot less critical of my appearance on Zoom. It also makes me feel better about myself since I have an idea of how others will see me in-person and be more accepting of compliments that may come my way.

Unmirroring my Zoom image was definitely a challenge in self-awareness and self-acceptance but I have come out of the experience a changed person. It was a very small change in my daily routine but I enjoy how I think of myself. We can go throughout our lives without ever really understanding how others see us but at least I can get an idea and feel comfortable in that knowledge.

Paige Pennebaker

Chapel Hill '21

Paige Pennebaker is an aspiring writer who attends UNC-Chapel Hill as a Senior during the day. She enjoys writing fiction and has been published on shortfictionbreak.com. While fiction is where her heart is, Paige also has a lot to say about the real world and how to get by.
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