Thursday, May 15, 2014
A cool thing happened today as I was leaving work.
As I was walking out of the office doors towards my car, a woman stopped to talk to me. I've only met the lady once - several months ago - and have seen her on and off throughout the last semester or two. (Not that it matters for this blog update, but I don't even know her name. I just know we work at the same place but that we've also never really held a discussion before.)
When she stopped me, she unexpectedly told me something along the lines of, "I just wanted to let you know - you inspire me. I know what you do…I know you go to the different classrooms to tell them about your birthmark. You see...I have a bunch of scars that make me extremely self-conscious - and I absolutely dislike wearing short sleeve shirts because of how self-conscious they make me. I'm being tested to see if I have lupus…which I don't think I have...but my doctors are totally clueless as to why I scar so easily. I get so self conscious over my scars, but then I heard about you and your 'imperfection' and how you handle it…teaching others and being confident with it…persevering. It has really helped and inspired me."
Oh...and the lady? Today she was wearing a tank top.
You never know how others are being affected by you and your story. You never know who is watching, who is listening.
I know that I am often able to help teach children about my birthmark. Nearly every day I walk away from my work with a cute kid quote about a question they ask me about it (like my favorite, "did you get it from eating a hamburger?"), or a story about how I was able to help them understand my birthmark.
I know the children are listening. I know they're watching. But I realized today that I forgot about the adults around me. The grownups - my peers.
Truthfully, I often forget I am different than everyone else on the outside - until someone points it out…and normally it's not pointed out in a positive way. I forget that I have a unique story that most don't get to tell or experience.
To me, my story is normal. My story is boring. My story is my daily life. It's the story I grew up with. It's the only story I've experienced and fully know.
However, today's positive moment reminded me that in some ways, if I embrace it in the right way, if I don't let it bring me down or discourage me, I can, I will, and I do have a powerful and slightly incredible story…and an extraordinary way to reach, educate, and connect with other people.
Today I was reminded that to other, my story is not boring. To others my story can be seen as interesting and mysterious. It can be seen as an encouragement.
We all have our unique situations - the good ones, the bad, and those that are in-between.
How are you going to allow these situations to affect your life? I hope you'll let them affect you for the positive. You never know the impact you can make if you embrace your situations, persevere, and find the positive. You never know who is watching…who is listening. Even if you make a difference in one person's life…It's all worth it, right?? You never know the domino affect and legacy your story may have, just by changing the life of one other person.
I don't know how the lady knows my story. We barely even know each other. I don't even know her name.
I don't know how she knows that I sometimes go to different classrooms to teach the children about my facial difference…but I know that somehow, she does know. I know that at some point she's listened. She's watched.
Please note, I am not posting today's story in attempts of bragging. That's not my desire at all.
If you're anything like me - you have a tendency to downplay how special you are. You forget or ignore how valuable you are as a person. You ignore your true beautiful worth, comparing yourselves to others with a measuring stick while thinking, "Oh wow. That other person has done so much with their life…What can I show for mine?? I'll never be as talented or as influential as them. I'll never be able to be like them." (I have a horrible habit of doing this.)
I only want to encourage you - no matter your story…Your story is special. Your story is unique. It is extraordinary…And more importantly: You are extraordinary. You are special and unique. You have value…and no one compares to you.
The Travelin' Chick,
PS: If you want to read more about what I do when I visit classrooms to talk about my birthmark, and my goal in doing so, please read Breaking Down the Box.