Scars tell stories.
A small circle on the left side of my stomach is the remnants of a raging case of the chicken pox.
The ones that are sprinkled over my lower legs tell the story of a twelve year old girl who decided she wanted to change the way her body functioned by going out on a limb and undergoing the first of three radical and invasive procedures to lengthening her legs. They are a reminder of how quickly I lost my childhood innocence; experiencing more judgement and brutal truths than the average child my age. Visible proof that I persevered despite the negativity and skepticism.
There are shiny, pink, solid lines, one each at my shoulder and elbow, that again, signify my power of choice. Reminders of starting my freshman year of high school with my head held high. Physical scars that are also reminders of some emotional ones. They reflect a girl who tried her hardest to abide by social standards unknowingly set by her peers; standards that I believed to have been true. Every snicker, every exclusion, every tear created an emotional scar.
The thin almost invisible scar at my waistline brings me back to laughing so hard that it hurt, literally. Post bone graft, laughing caused me to choke on crackers and cry from the pain yet laugh at the silly circumstance.
Bigger, shiny, pink lines on the sides of each of my thighs from round three, what I thought was going to be my final surgery. They define many ‘new’ first moments; my own two feet touching the ground for the first time when I sat in a chair, my first national television appearance and my first time in the driver’s seat.
Another longer, Frankenstein-esque looking scar that runs the length of my left thigh from an infection in my leg that landed me five days in the hospital with what felt like battery acid (Vancomycin) running through my veins. The same time that I was introduced to another powerful young woman on a very different yet very similar journey.
Visible or not, I have learned that scars will never foresee where you are headed on your walk through this life. Rather, they are vivid reminders of rivers forged, mountains ascended and wings spread. Instead of viewing them as memories of woe that they may outwardly suggest, I am choosing to wear mine as banners of optimism.
You have the option to do the same. They are proof that you won. The stories that you create surrounding such indicators of triumph are contagious. So own them; have a sense of pride. The deeper they are, the more room there is for love. Appreciate them for all that they are. Most of my scars were born of acceptance, choice, perseverance and growth. I’m not embarrassed by them. In fact, I value the stories they tell. They don’t make me weak. If anything, they have cultivated a strength within me that I never knew possible.
My physical body might be scarred but my spirit is wild and free. By continuously surrounding myself with people who look past my physicalities, I am reminded that different is beautiful and what lies behind me does not define me. The stories behind my scars certainly have changed my life but they will never keep me from living it.