I used to think beauty was measured on a purely physical level and my awkward, unusual appearance, caused by my Treacher Collins syndrome, was far from ideal. I wasn’t beautiful; I never would be.
But I was wrong.
While I admit to still fighting my insecurities even as an adult, I have grown to realize that what makes a person beautiful is not her physical attractiveness.
Beauty begins in the heart.
Here are seven reasons I know I am beautiful—and they have nothing to do with my looks:
I feel deeply for people and animals that cannot help themselves and are left defenseless. If I see a story on the news about someone with a disability being tormented because of his handicap, it eats away at me. I lie awake in bed for hours trying to suppress my rising anxiety. It’s hard to control the quickening of my breath and the lump rising in my throat. Usually, that feeling stays with me for days. To combat the negativity I hear about, I choose to raise money for charities and volunteer my time to organizations such as Toys for Tots. I hope these acts of kindness someday erase hate.
Patience for those who need it most
I learned through my grandparents that, with age, everything becomes a bit more difficult. People become slower, more forgetful and more dependent upon others. It’s so easy to show our frustrations when we encounter someone who doesn’t share our memory capacity or physical agility. I choose to have patience with such people, because not that long ago they were just as young and agile as I am. And I know that one day, I might be the one hoping someone will have patience with me.
View the world through many lenses
I think objectively and don’t shut people down when I disagree with them. I take the time to listen to their viewpoints and try to understand why they think what they do. In the end, I might not agree, but I am able to accept that other people have opinions that differ from my own.
Appreciation of my life
I know I’m lucky. I have a good life, a loving family and great friends. I haven’t struggled too much aside from my reconstructive surgeries, and I’ve experienced so much more than most people. I’ve gone to college without those dreaded student loans; I’ve traveled throughout America and Europe; I’ve bought a home in my dream town; and I’ve known all four of my grandparents. Yes, I’ve faced my own personal hardships, but I appreciate my life as it is. I’m grateful for all the good, because the positive far outweighs the negative.
Not worrying what people think of me
I’ve never been a follower. I believe in creating my own path. After all, I am my own person. I don’t let other people’s judgment of me or my actions dictate my life. I am not easily influenced, and that has made me who I am.
Fiercely loyal to friends
I’m the best version of myself with a small group of close friends. I don’t need a lot of people to make my life complete. For my closest friends, I am completely dedicated to our relationships. I would drop everything to be there for them, and they know that.
Won’t back down from a challenge
I’ve experienced my fair share of obstacles over the years. Many have been related to my syndrome: surgeries, long recovery periods, the daily stares of curious onlookers. Other challenges, I’ve placed in front of myself, such as aiming for (and achieving!) a perfect 10 score as a youth gymnast, or completing multiple marathons. Whatever the obstacles have been, I am strong enough to have overcome them all. I think that’s the deepest source of my beauty. You will never find me giving me up, because I’ve worked too hard to build myself into the woman I am. My strength, mental and physical, and my determination have made me unbreakable. I know I can accomplish anything I set out to do.
It took me a long time to realize that beauty was more than what I saw in the mirror. I know now that I’m a beautiful person because of my actions, my mind, and my heart. And that’s the kind of beauty that truly lasts and makes a difference in the world.
My life was defined the moment I entered the world. When you’re born with a facial abnormality such as Treacher Collins syndrome, you’re not the smart one, the funny one, or the pretty one; you’re the girl with the strange face and hearing aid. This made me a warrior from a young age. I surpassed boundaries and crashed through walls, proudly accepting the challenge to stand out. I am the author of Diary of a Beautiful Disaster (KiCam Projects, 2017). I live Central Florida and work in product development for a local attraction. I was once a champion gymnast, but now I focus on running marathons. In my free time, I can be found designing T-shirts, watching baseball, and blogging.