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To be truthful, I have never felt normal. I haven’t led exactly the most normal life either. Most kids don’t spend half their childhood in and out of the hospital for reconstructive surgeries, or dealing with years of braces, headgear that look like a catcher’s mask, or getting half you head shaved for a procedure. That was not fun, and I would get so mad when someone mistook me for a boy. (It was in the summer, I was six years old,and spent most of that time in shorts and t-shirts. I also wore a baseball hat to cover my bare scalp).

I dreamed all the time of living a life without complications, without going to doctors, not being teased and bullied in school for my looks. I wished I had the ability to turn invisible, because I just wanted everyone to stop staring at me, so I could just go on and not be bothered by anyone. I hated the popular kids, and yet, I wanted so desperately to be like them. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to fit in, but no matter how hard I tried, I still was the butt of insults and humiliation.

There was a very bitter realization when I came to see I wasn’t going to be transformed into something devastatingly beautiful. This was me, I wasn’t going to be able to make my nose look perfect, I wasn’t going to make the scars on my face go away (unless I got creative with foundation), and I wasn’t going to have a perfect set of pearly whites to flash when smiling. It sucks big time, but it’s something I need to accept. At this point in my life, I’m pretty much there. But for all this time, a bit of wisdom from my college years came back to remind me. Where he’s gone now, I’ll never know, but he gave me the most profound advice I have ever heard in my 36 years being alive. Why be like everyone else when you can be unique? That’s what this acquaintance told me. Louis, of the scraggly goatee, glasses, and the Russian Army greatcoat. Louis, with the six-inch mohawk and steel-capped monster boots. I might add, one of the most eloquent and intelligent individuals I’ve ever met. Why would I want to be a carbon copy of every other girl out there when I can be completely myself? There was not another person on this earth like me who looked the way I did, thought the way I did, had my own particularly shrewd sense of humour. I should be embracing those attributes instead of burying them. At the time, I laughed at it, trying to deny to myself that they actually did make a lot of sense. At that time, I saw myself, or tried to make myself a sort of non-entity. I wanted to just fade into the background. Thing is, no matter how hard I tried, I was still visible and after a while, I got tired of it. What was so terrible about being different? Why is standing out in a crowd so awful to us, especially in America? Why did I want to be a part of those snotty, nasty girls in school? Because they always had the latest fashions? Because they were popular and had lots of friends? When I think about it, their lives were very shallow compared to mine. Theirs was all surface and attention, while mine was a matter of survival. I never asked for what happened to me, but it did. I get frustrated at times because of what I’ve been through, but I think it’s also taught me some valuable lessons. Some people may have just given up, after going through what I did, ended their life because they just couldn’t deal with the pain. I’ve been close to that point several times, but never broke. Maybe it makes me stronger, or that it shows I’m a survivor. Kids thought I was mentally handicapped because of my birth defects (shows how much they know!), but here I am, blogging! I’d like to think I’m fairly eloquent in my posts, and clearly that means something to those who read what I put out here.

So I’ve decided to embrace my uniqueness, because honestly, normal is really boring. Normal is not challenging the imagination, or the rules. Normal is living in a rut, because getting out of it means entering unexplored territory. I am different, and I’ve come to like it. I would rather befriend the shunned girl with the dyed blue hair than all the Abercrombie & Fitch outfitted brats, because there’s got to be a great story behind that blue hair. I’m blind in one eye, and for a time, it was a mark of shame for me. Now I accept it as just a part of who I am, and have developed a wicked sense of humour about it. I’ve played pranks on people with it, much to my immense delight. That’s empowering. I don’t have typical interests. I love being a sci-fi nerd, reading graphic novels, getting technical over computer special effects. I like wearing unusual makeup, or dressing a little outside the norm. I like bending the rules when it comes to my appearance. I have two tattoos and stretched lobes, because I like it. I have musical tastes that span the spectrum, from chamber music to metal and electronica. I don’t think it makes me a frivolous person, but much more dimensional. I’m always changing, because I am trying to figure out who I am inside. I never let myself embrace that growing up. The most amazing thing that I have discovered is that people think I’m beautiful. They have told me to my face I am an attractive woman, and I have never been able to express how amazed that sounds to me. They say I’m beautiful also because of who I am inside. I care about what people say, and I care about what I say to others. If all these different little facets are what make me shine, then I’m happy to say I am unique. I’m not better or worse than anyone else. I’m human, which is something I have overlooked for a long time. Every single orchid is unique in its shape, and rare, and beautiful. That’s how I see myself. Unique.

I have to offer thanks to someone who inspired me to not be afraid of being different. La Carmina, I truly enjoy looking into your world and seeing how I can apply it to my own. Thank you for helping me see my own strengths and potential. Plus Basil, who is my furry life preserver.