Tuesday, November 18, 2014


In addition to some minor lifestyle adjustments, living with vitiligo has required a mental shift. For a brief time, I was using this visible skin condition to explain away some things and make excuses not to do others. If I was overlooked for anything from a job to a romantic interest it had to be the vitiligo. My inclination to be outgoing and friendly would be choked by fear of rejection due to the inconsistencies of my skin tone. The confidence it takes to interview for a job would be snuffed out by the mere thought of a potentially awkward look and even more awkward handshake as people try to determine whether or not what they see is contagious. Vitiligo became the thing that I tried to not only hide, but also hide behind. Fortunately for me, life had bigger plans.

Since being diagnosed in 2006, life has taken me on an incredible journey that included relocating from the West Coast to the Midwest, traveling around the world by sea, relocating again, and more traveling, both personally and professionally. Between the moves, interviews, vacations, and conferences, I was constantly meeting and interacting with people. I was so busy living, adjusting, and readjusting to life that I didn't worry or question what others thought. I needed to think bigger about my life and that meant experiencing life as bigger than what I could see.

I am in no way suggesting that if given the choice to have vitiligo that I would have willingly signed up for it, but living with it has demanded that I become a stronger version of myself. Life has required me to step out from behind the fear and stop hiding. I have developed true confidence which does not originate from external characteristics. Confidence, like strength, courage, peace, and self-love, comes from within and it took having a big, visible skin condition to show me how much bigger my life really was.

Life will require you to step up and be bigger. Life can take what you didn't plan for and show you that you contain more strength than you thought. While you may not have selected portions of your path for yourself, it all has the potential to stretch you. Life could present an illness, a loss, the opportunity to become a parent/guardian, a relocation, the responsibility of taking care of an aging parent, or relationship changes. Once you have given yourself time to feel, accept and adjust, trust that your new life will bring with it new strength, new perspective, and new purpose. Your life cannot expand and grow until you are willing to expand and grow. Once that happens, you will understand that your purpose is bigger and contains more than you can see.

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