As someone who has had clearly visible scars on both sides of my head since the 2nd Grade, I know how it feels to be self-conscious. Many times people have asked me about them, often thinking that my scars were a hairstyle preference. Of course, I do not disdain or dislike those who ask me about them, but the questions often make me feel uncomfortable. At some points in my life, I have let my hair grow out in order to have my scars less noticeable; I suppose that I thought it would make things more convenient.
It all probably started when I met my brother and sister at the airport after returning from Stanford. My sister looked at me, — two years old at the time — with a innocently frightened face, and pointed to where my scars would be on her head in confusion. At the time, I just smiled and thought nothing of it. Only weeks after my surgeries, my scars looked absolutely disgusting and intimidating — especially for someone young. Since then, it has seemed like an endless stream of people asking me about my scars. My answer has always been the same: “These are scars from my brain surgery in Second grade.”I usually say this casually, and matter-of-factly, just to try to get over it. Many times, this has the effect of shocking the person, and often prompts them to say something like “I’m sorry to hear about that.”
In the past several years, I have had this pattern occur: First, I would get long, shaggy hair and decide to cut it; then, I would see how visible my scars are and feel hesitant and irrationally insecure. In my head, I would think that everyone would notice and comment on my scars, — which is not a big deal at all — something that I am unreasonably afraid of. Sometimes, I would get a few questions about my scars from people who had not even noticed they existed, but things always go normally.
My insecurity spawns from the natural desire to want to fit in with everyone around you. I have always wanted to be known for my merits, and actions rather than the fact that I have Moyamoya disease. It is an important part of my identity, but not one that I want to define me before my personality. My scars are something that clearly separates me from 99% of those that I have met, and that can make me feel uncomfortable. Although my insecurities certainly still do exist, this past year I have started to care less and less about trying to cover my scars. I have come to accept that they are a part of my life, represent a key experience that I had, and am proud to bear them.