When I was in high school, I was very insecure about, well everything. Especially the way that I walked. I walked with a very noticeable limp. I tried to force myself to walk “normally”, but that stubborn limp was extremely detectable no matter how hard I tried to hide it.
When my peers happened to look in my direction, I assumed the worst. They’re looking at my misshapen legs/arms!
Often, they were. How could they not? I had a tumor bigger than a baseball on my right hip. It jutted out unnaturally, like a neon sign flashing over my head that said different.
The voice in my head was far worse than the voices of my peers. Those voices were often gentle, questioning and curious…but not intentionally cruel. Had I known then what I know now, I would have taken all those opportunities to educate them about my disorder. But I was insecure, I lashed out and told them to mind their own business.
Of course…people should mind their own business. People shouldn’t question others on the differences about their bodies because that’s private.
Why do we have to have this mindset when it comes to what body’s “should” look like, anyway? Have we not come far enough now to recognize that not everyone is built the same and we are not entitled to the reason “why”? It just is, like the wind. You don’t ask the wind why, you just accept that it is wind.
So, I do get a little mad when people ask me “What’s wrong with your arms/legs/whatever?” Nothing is wrong; it’s my body. That’s how it is.
“What happened to you” is another one of those questions that make me wince. Nothing happened. This is me. This is who I am and what I look like…
I’ve spent too many years thinking that how my body looks is wrong because it’s not what other bodies look like. But if we were to line up a bunch of “normal bodies”, we would still find a million things about each body that are different and unique and beautiful in their own right.
The illusion of beauty that’s been thrust upon all of us is so wrong. We know that, we talk about it all the time…about how we need to stop letting the media dictate beauty. But we still give them power when we ask questions about somebody’s body just because it looks “different”. It doesn’t look “like a body should”. But tell me…what should a body look like? Why do differences have to be negative?
I wish we were all less concerned with the vessel and more concerned with the mind. I wish people focused more on the beauty of being different and building people up instead of tearing them down.
I’ve made a lot of changes to how I see myself. These changes came slowly, painfully so…but they came. When my first born son got his diagnosis and it didn’t change how incredibly handsome and wonderful he is, I realized even more so that I wasted so many years unhappy with how I looked. I let my insecurities prevent me from enjoying my youth and life.
I don’t want my sons to ever experience those kinds of insecurities about their bodies, and the first step was changing how I see mine.
If I could give my sons advice, it would be…
Some people will stare. Some people will say things that make you feel bad about yourself, but you shouldn’t feel bad because you are wonderful and handsome. Yes, you’re different, but that’s good. Your differences help shape you, but they don’t make you.
The people who make you feel bad for being different aren’t worth your time. Don’t let their insecurities become yours. The right people will never make you feel bad for your differences. They will embrace you fully and love you completely because you are incredible and that’s what they will see.
Maybe if we just accept the fact that not everybody is going to look the same, and stop drawing attention to the differences, then we can prevent giving people (or worse, impressionable young children) added insecurities about their bodies. It’s not too late to redefine “normal” and “beauty”.