"You'll have this scar forever," the surgeon confessed. "Are you sure you want to go through with this?"
Sitting in the consultation office, I pondered. Was this what I wanted? My eyes scanned the outdated room, searching for any helpful motivational posters or inspirational quotes to help me decide. Alas, no luck. My eyes returned to the surgeon.
"That's fine," I replied, resigning myself to the mark that I would have on my body for the foreseeable future.
But before you jump to conclusions, let me explain.
I have a scar on my right leg. It's no more than an inch or so, but nevertheless, it's a scar. It's located on a part of my leg that doesn't get shown often, but when it does, my automatic reaction is to hide it. It's brown, a little swelled, but overall, it looks like a botched stitch job (which is exactly what it is). About 4 years ago, a benign cyst showed up on my leg. And even though it was harmless, it bothered me to have it on my body. It was mysterious and wholly unwelcome. So when I had it removed, I wasn't expecting to have a souvenir of it on me forever, in the form of a scar.
This is only one of the unexpected marks on my body. There's a birthmark near my stomach, stretch marks hugging all my curves, and even an indent by my upper left brow from a childhood mishap that resulted from me and a slamming door (the cost of growing up around three rambunctious siblings). But in recent years, I've come to think about these scars in a different way. Because from what I can tell, they should more accurately be labelled stories.
I don't know where the word "scar" became so perverted. Do you? I fail to believe it's always been this way. When did we each start to believe that the imperfections and marks on our bodies were somehow linked with shame? Do they point back to times in our lives we'd rather forget? Or worse, do they signify the inadequacies we currently possess?
What makes a scar different than a tattoo? As millennials, many of us (myself included) lust after beautiful tattoos from artists who are impossible to book with. We dream of body art that will make us look like the most complete version of ourselves, bringing what's on the inside of our souls to the outside, through stunning artwork that's etched into our skin forever. If you're anything like me, there isn't a price point that's too high, because the ending result is simply exquisite. And oftentimes, whatever image it is has meaning to us. It's a part of our story.
See where I'm going with this?
You'll hear me say it today, tomorrow, and all the days to come: what makes you different, those scars both external and internal, make you exquisite. Because each scar symbolizes a story. They're stories from the battles you've won and the battles you've lost, and the journey you've courageously set forth on to become the person you are right now. There is no other route you could've taken that would've produced the radiant human you are today. The one that cares too much, the one that sleeps in a little too late, the one that closes their eyes when they take a sip of truly delicious coffee.
So I have a challenge for you. Next time you look in the mirror, try to admire those parts of your body you'd usually curse. Look on your own scars with kindness. Like it or not, they're a part of you. And if you learn to like them, you may even learn to love them. Surprise yourself, it might just be worth it.