Wednesday 23 March 2016

Life scars

I have several scars. Some of them are unique; a lot of them aren't. One of my unique scars is on my left foot, and it's my favourite. 

I acquired that scar 10 years ago by cutting my foot on a piece of metal that was lying in our driveway. Instead of cleaning it properly and putting some Polysporin on, I half-heartedly rinsed my foot with water, slapped a band-aid on and called it a day. Obviously, that wasn't enough: it got infected, needed to be cut open and cleaned properly, which was the most painful experience I've ever had in my medically sheltered life.

The other scar is on my right thumb, and it dates all the way back to my childhood. I had warts as a child (so sexy), and that particular one was burned off. What has stayed vividly in my memory is that I fainted for the first time in my life. Also, after the ordeal was done, my dad bought me ice cream. :-)

The reason I like my scars is that they remind me of how I had to undergo unpleasant procedures, but survived to tell the tale. My scars are pretty insignificant compared to cancer survivors, war veterans, or the large scar on my daughter's chest from her open heart surgery when she was only two years old.
But they are what I've got, and I'm grateful for them. Both experiences taught me lessons that I still benefit from today: Compassion for my patients when they have to undergo something similar, and a healthy respect for cleaning and disinfecting wounds.
Also: To put on proper shoes when moving large pieces of metal (flip-flops ain't good enough, kids!).

The other "scars" are not really scars, but marks that life has given me.

There are the laugh lines around my eyes.

Oh, and these two spots on my cheek that have been there for months now. They just won't go away.

My stretch marks/lines on my neck from gaining weight when I was 18, and losing it five years later.

The cellulite on my thighs and bum, that come from, well, being a woman, I guess.

Similar shorts; similar statement tee 

The grey hair that's starting to sneak in.

I also have belly rolls, big thighs and a butt that won't quit, because I love bread, and chocolate, and wine.

I don't want to feel like I have to hide the marks that life has given me.
We all have them, yet so many of us believe they have to hide life's signs under make-up, clothing, botox-injections, or plastic surgery.

Make-up, hair dye, and clothes are fun and an expression of one's unique personality and creativity.
I think it's fabulous, and you should do your thing!

But I do believe that we should also feel comfortable in our skin without the help of these protective layers.
I wish our society would celebrate aging as the remarkable achievement it is: Anyone going through life has to weather storms, fight battles and get hurt. Those trials leave their mark.

Why should we feel that we have to hide them?
Aren't these scars to be worn with pride, reminding us of having faced adversity, and gotten stronger because of it?

I am in the second half of my thirties, with the big 4-0 less than four years away. My goal for aging is as simple as it is radical: Celebrate it. I want to look at the scars and marks on my body, remembering the stories behind it, and to be grateful to be healthy and alive.

Diane Von Furstenberg writes in her book The Woman I Wanted To Be:

"There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you’re a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I’ve taken. My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?"
Why, indeed.

Tell me: How do you feel about aging? Excited, dreading it, indifferent? let me know in the comments!


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