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That Time You Looked at Your Reflection Instead, What your girl crush is blocking from view

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

November 13, 2017


It begins with her face, which is literally flawless. She doesn’t need makeup, but a good BB cream feels like velvet, so she wears it just for that luxury. Her eyes are a transfixing shade of blue with little gold specs, reserved only for Disney princesses, but magically she was designed with them. Her hair is shiny and buoyant and she has a knack for piling it into a messy bun in seconds, and rocks it. Of course she’s thin and has a rack that looks store bought but isn’t. And what’s worse, she’s a natural flirt. The kind that doesn’t know she’s a flirt – eye lashes at half mast, casual smile, giggles at everything. Guys trail her. Girls circle her. She basically charms the planet.


You hate her, right?


Because when you look at her, your pores are instantly gigantic. Your eyes are just eyes and when you apply mascara to make them something more, it always freaking goops. Your messy bun takes just as long to pull off as 15 minutes with a straightener, and you can’t even speak of the failed cleanse that was supposed to shed ten pounds or the disappointment that is your chest. As for flirting? You need Spark Notes for that.


But you’re secretly obsessed with her.


You wonder if she was born that way—just some fabulous newborn, superior to the other babies. Or maybe it’s learned behavior? Are there electives for savage queens that you missed? Maybe it’s hereditary and there’s an entire family like her: Mama Queen, Teenage Queen, Tween Queen, Kid Sister Queen. Let’s face it. They probably have a “Glam-ma” Queen killing it in the retirement home. But more than anything, you study her. You notice the unexpected mules she pairs with cropped boot cuts. You analyze how she tilts her head when she laughs. She doesn’t look over her shoulder when she dances, and you marvel how giving zero shits can equate to such fabulousness.


She is beloved. And you continue to stare. Sound familiar?


If Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” had existed when I was at the peak of my younger, jaded feelings of inadequacy, I’d have wallowed in the song because of one particular girl. I’ll never forget her. It went beyond her looks. She had it all—adorably petite, trendy, top tier sorority, her pick of any guy in the frat house. Who she had was my college crush, a guy by whom I was completely whipped, that head-over-heels type of crush to which all future crushes would be measured. She drew envy from me—envy turned obsession. And as the song goes, I wanted “everything she (had), that smile and that midnight laugh she (was) giving (him).” It was her “magic touch” that captivated me most. She had power over everyone, especially me, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t even know I existed. But maybe, just maybe, if I could become her, like in “Girl Crush,” he would “want me just as much.” And everyone else would too, right?


Wrong. Obviously.


That whole bizarre triangle was tragic, but faking myself is a glossed over description of how far I fell victim to the girl crush. The truth is that I didn’t want me as much. Somehow I had stopped looking at me and only looked at everyone else. The effect was that I couldn’t see my own magic touch, suffocating under layers of jealousy.


This is a classic weakness in human nature, though. We look out instead of in. We see what we aren’t instead of who we are. We study someone else instead of ourselves, and we miss entirely that someone is watching us. Right this minute you’re a girl crush and you don’t even know it.


What’s wrong with us?


Imagine if you were your girl crush? Imagine if you had the guts to say in the mirror, “Damn, girl. You’re hot.” Or, “You slayed that presentation.” And, “I’m really good at this mom thing.” I’m willing to bet that you’d not only be happier with yourself, but you’d be better to others. We put out what we take in.


I know enough to know that as I mature so do my feelings of inadequacy. Today I’m obsessed with women whose houses smell good. Seriously, do y’all pipe it in? If you live on the parade route and are a carnival hostess queen, I basically hate you. But let’s be honest, I also want to be your best friend. And if you consistently hit the hottest happy hour, I aspire to your social superiority.



But what would happen if the next time I look at those women and the next time you look at your girl crush, we followed their eyes. Who is she watching? It would probably surprise us.


Originally published in New Orleans Magazine online.

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Annie D. Stutley

the short story

Back in 2017, “That Time You” took its first steps—a blog that humorously and inspiringly chronicled the chaos of everyday life. It was a canvas for what I referred to as “gaffes with glory” (what others may call hot mess success tales) and also resolutions for how to tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges, plus personal victories within the daily hustle. I've never had all the answers, and truth be told, I still don't. Yet, I spoke the language of the Hot Mess and Walking Disaster, understanding that we don't need to have it all figured out or succeed at everything to truly grasp our purpose.

However, 2021 brought a drastic turn: I faced a Stage 3 cancer diagnosis and tragically lost my mother during my sixth round of chemotherapy. My path forward seemed impossible. Stumbling took on a whole new weight—it became a burden I struggled to carry in a place where trust felt elusive. “That Time You” evolved at that point because I evolved. Stripped of my plans and the future I had envisioned, I found solace in my one constant: my faith.

Since surviving cancer (and the loss of a parent for the second time in a two-year period), I transitioned into a full-time editing role and also poured my energy into contributing monthly to three different magazines. “That Time You” was put on a purposeful pause—two years for recovery, rediscovery, and revision. I'm gearing up for a relaunch. This time around, whatever I share with you will be rooted in the wealth of experiences I’ve gained over the past three years, because sometimes stumbling becomes an essential part of our path, forcing us to dust off our fuzzy socks and bravely venture forward, wiser.

“That Time You” lives on, on this site, and I do promise to continue to share my misadventures with meaning and celebrate blunders alongside triumphs. Yet, I’ll be chronicling the certain enlightenment amidst life's darkness—a testament to faith and, hopefully, a guide for uncovering God's presence in every situation, whether it's the mundane or the profoundly challenging.

 

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

Much love,

Annie

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