One rainy afternoon, I had invited my friend Courtney over for a play-date. When she arrived, we jumped on the mattress like nine year olds do, giggling and throwing pillows and launching each other off our feet. Only Courtney may have launched me a little bit to far the last time, because I flew right off the bed and into the wooden dresser in the corner of the room.
My body smashed into the wooden dresser, leaving me achy all over. When I looked at Courtney, she had a horrified look on her face. And then I felt it, the splintering pain in my head, accompanied by the hot liquid running down my eyelid and into my eye. It turns out I had hit my brow-bone on the corner of the dresser, ripping open my skin in the process. I remember running up to my mom and embracing her in a big hug because as far as my nine year old self was concerned, I was going to bleed to death right there in her bedroom.
When I pulled away from my mom her white blouse was stained red and her face grew pale as she assessed the damage. When she wiped away the blood long enough to get a good look, she came across something a little horrifying—my bone, bare and exposed. She rushed me to the local urgent care, where it was determined that I would need twelve stitches to close the wound.
It has been nine years since then, but part of this story still lives with me. I am reminded of it every time I look in the mirror. Although it has faded over time, I can still picture that rainy afternoon accompanied by sweet memories of my childhood friend when I see the indent in my skin, just below my right eyebrow.
For the longest time I wanted to get rid of my scar, to wipe it away like a smudge on a window. I looked into ridiculously expensive treatments because I thought it made me less of myself, like a dent in a car, diminishing the overall value.
Society has deemed things like scars, freckles, wrinkles, and other stuff that happens to our body over time as unattractive because they dare to make us different than others. However, this is exactly why I find them so interesting; the stories that lie behind them are a part of who we are. They are kind of like physical documentations of some of our experiences in life.
The C shaped scar on the back of your leg tells the story of the summer when you were eight and you leaned up against the exhaust pipe of your mom’s car. Each time you catch a glimpse of it in the mirror it takes you back through time and space and you can still smell the asphalt and feel the hot sun beating down on your skin.
The scars on your wrist recount the times when everything that keeps you awake at night almost won, but didn’t. They spread the message that you are a warrior; that you overcame your battles and fought off your demons one by one until they no longer had the ability to control you.
Each and every freckle and sunspot on your face tells the story of a lifetime spent letting the sun dance across your skin. The crinkles around your eyes and nose remind you of the sun tan lotion and sea salt that coated your skin like armor. These marks remind you of all the summers from your childhood that blur together because they were composed of lazy days by the pool and coloring with chalk on the sidewalk.
They recall the moment when you first saw the ocean and you can still hear the song of the waves ringing in your ears. They bring you memories of blue skies and sunshine and chasing after ice cream trucks with change rattling in your pockets. They spill from your cheeks like constellations and whisper stories of some of the best moments of your life.
The lines that stray outward from the corners of your lips hold the stories of the times that you sat on your best friends roof at two in the morning, telling each other stories of drunken nights and embarrassing moments, gasping for air between explosions of laughter. They carry the first time the boy that you loved said that you were beautiful and you couldn’t stop smiling for three days straight.
They remind you of the time he left and your best friend made you smile through mascara smudged eyes by reminding you that you were beautiful before he told you so. They tell the story of the first time you met your baby sister, the time you sang your heart out when you saw your favorite band in concert, and the times when you looked in the mirror and realized that the most beautiful parts of you could never be reflected by a piece of glass.
I believe we should embrace these parts of us, rather than hide them. They represent the way that our experiences can change who we are. They stay with us as a reminder of how time has molded us from a blank slate to an unprecedented work of art. I have grown to love my scar because it leaves an indelible mark of one of the stories that makes up my childhood and sets me apart from others. It is part of who I am, and I am proud of it.