Accept versus Except
Growing up with psoriatic disease was tough. That’s a no brainer, right? Facing puberty is awkward enough without throwing glaring skin lesions and flaking on top of it. Thank goodness I grew up in a time before social media! Needless to say, my self-confidence was pretty much non-existent.
It’s amazing that I made it through my teenage years. These are the years when a person is supposed to answer one important question for themselves: “Who am I?” But, for me the question I struggled to answer the most was: “What have I become?” Let me explain.
Feeling like a what
I started showing signs of psoriasis when I was around 12-13 years old. This is when I started feeling like less of a who and more like a what. You would think that this transition of thinking would happen over years of suffering, but surprisingly I started to feel this way after just those first stares and probing questions that arose as fast as the original plaques.
I am a firm believer that hindsight is 20/20. As I look back at that time right after diagnosis, I realize that I was just as responsible for my lack of self-confidence as the stares and questions were. Some of you reading may be thinking, “No way! You’re not at fault. You couldn’t help it.” The fact of the matter is that I couldn’t help that I developed the disease, but it was a choice to accept (or reject) myself because of it.
It took many years for me to change my mindset. It was a lot easier to blame the disease, the bullies, or anything else for my lack of self-acceptance. Even at a young age, I realized that if I just continued to blame my condition or the circumstances for the way I felt, then I didn’t have to take any responsibility and I could live as a victim. As a victim, I could blame my disease for not doing well in school, not holding a good job, not being a good husband, etc.
Learning WHO I am
This is a pit I want to ensure no one gets trapped in. I lived in that pit. It’s not a good place to be. As hurtful as the stares and comments can be, hating yourself won’t stop them; hating yourself will only stop you. The most important and impactful thing you can do is choose acceptation, not exception. You are worthy of being accepted, not excepted.
What I experienced is that once I accepted myself as a who, not a what, other people took notice and I felt so much better. I started a Krav Maga class, got a new hair style, and started volunteering. I found inspiration by connecting with others that were living successful lives aside from their psoriasis. I then turned that inspiration into finding my purpose: to build up and encourage others like me. I realized that there were a lot of ways to make myself feel better about my appearance and who I was.
You can spend your whole life trying to gain the acceptance of others, but if you can’t even accept yourself, then it is all meaningless. Don’t let this disease make you feel like a what, but instead let it add to the awesome part of who you are. Accept the fact that you are not the exception; you are exceptional!
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