In The Other Eyes

I was sitting in the window seat on a direct flight from Istanbul to Chicago, about halfway through 28 hours of traveling home from an exhausting trip. I felt grimy, I desperately needed to brush my teeth, and I would gladly have whined to anyone who would listen about how tired I was and how three hours of sleep the night before might just be the end of me. I was cranky, and even the excellent in-flight movie selection and beverage choices weren’t soothing my American need for comfort.

The lead singer of our rock cover band, who was suffering from a migraine, was also surfing through her movie options in the stiff coach seat next to mine. We hadn’t spoken in nearly an hour.

Suddenly, she asked, “Hey, did you read the Divergent books?”

I pulled out my headphones. “No, I didn’t. I’ve seen the first two movies though. Why?”

“You remind me of Tris, the main character.”

I was confused. “Really?”

“Yeah, the family she came from, and she’s adventurous and does all this crazy stuff on her own.”

“Huh.” I fell silent, feeling a little dazed.

In case you’re not familiar, this is Tris:


And in case you can’t tell from the photo, she’s a badass.

Beatrice Prior was raised in a family that was selfless and giving and entirely devoted to helping others. But she chose to leave them to join a group of crazy, adventurous thrill-seekers, changed her name to Tris, and ended up saving the lives of a whole bunch of people. (That’s me trying not to spoil the story for you. It’s a decent story – worth watching the movies, at least.)

Beatrice was a girl I saw in stolen moments at the mirror, who kept quiet at the dinner table. This is someone whose eyes claim mine and don’t release me; this is Tris.“— Tris Prior, in Divergent

Tris learns to fight, leaps off moving trains, and generally doesn’t mess around.

I don’t think of myself like this.

In case you’re not familiar, this is me:


Now that I think of it, Tris and I do have some things in common. Our families, our short blonde hair…ummm…I think that’s it.

I don’t consider myself wildly adventurous, and I certainly have never jumped off a moving train. I did jump onto a moving train, once, but that’s a story for another time.

My point is, when I look at Tris, I see a badass, a cool kid, a fighter, a world-changer. When I look in the mirror, that’s not what I see. At least not usually.

But when other people look at me, they might see those things. They might look into my eyes and see what I so far only catch glimpses of – adventure, courage, positivity, joy, craziness. They don’t hear my whining thoughts about not getting enough sleep, or feel my social anxiety about talking to other people, or heard me try to talk myself into doing something even remotely dangerous. They don’t listen to my inner monologue.

Which is really helpful to remember when I’m sweating and having heart palpitations about having to call my doctor’s office to make an appointment for my annual checkup. Hypothetically speaking, of course.


Has anyone ever made a positive statement about you that took you by surprise? If so, I’d love to hear about it.


2 thoughts on “In The Other Eyes

  1. Mary October 21, 2016 / 4:58 pm

    I definitely agree. You’ve always challenged my sense of adventure and convinced me to do things I would normally have been intimidated by. And helped coerce me out of my own insecurity bubble…have you met your [extended] family? They can be a little scary 😉

    • ashleyne October 28, 2016 / 10:38 am

      Haha, you make excellent points. Although you’re pretty gutsy at times, too.

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