This February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!
Today’s prompt is:
Share a scar.
I’m going to take this prompt in a slightly different direction from the one the creator of #LoveMe* probably intended and talk about multiple scars instead. And about scars in general.
*Which is… who, exactly??? Because I’ve looked around and I still can’t figure it out.
A few years ago I was looking at different scars I have and feeling freaked out. I honestly don’t know exactly why, but I guess it was just the idea that I’d somehow messed up my body by having many scars on my knees from all the times I scraped them falling off my bike as a kid, small scars on my fingers from nicking them with a knife when I was careless about cutting up vegetables for salad, et cetera.
I guess I was thinking about how, theoretically, my body could/should have been “perfect” but I’d messed it up. I don’t even know. It didn’t actually come from a place of self-loathing: Mostly, I wondered if there were any people who’d somehow managed to get through life without acquiring any scars here and there. And then I was like, “Well, that’s definitely not me!”
I’d forgotten about those thoughts until today. When I look back on them now I can’t understand what my past self was thinking because scars are good.
I mean, how we acquire them isn’t good, since it involves blood and pain and other icky things. But in the end, it’s a really good record of where we’ve been in life.
For example, the scar I have on the outside of my left calf comes from the summer I tried to teach myself how to roller skate. The second-hand skates were a little too small but I wore them anyway and the plastic edges bit into my skin – more so on the left than on the right, for some reason. (FYI, I got out of my chair just now and pulled up my pant legs to self-consciously check if one of my legs is way fatter than the other. The answer is no.) When I see that scar, I remember how stubborn I was at twelve or thirteen or fourteen.
A couple of months ago I was examining my knees because I’d fallen backward, rather dramatically, off the sink counter while trying to put a poster high up on the wall of my dorm room and tore a small flap of skin off on my way down. (The things I do for interior decoration.) I was super confused at first because I couldn’t find most of my old scars from falling off my bike. Eventually I realized that over the years many of them had flattened out so that the only evidence those accidents had ever happened was the silvery skin, of a slightly different texture, that had been left behind.
And then there are the scars on my hands. I picked up some of them from working as a dishwasher and line cook for three years back in high school, and others from gardening or doing yardwork with my parents. Burns from getting splashed by the hot oil in the fryer, small cuts from not paying close enough attention to what I was doing when using the pruner, and so on and so forth.
Today, I no longer think it’s weird to have such imperfections as scars. Apart from fingerprints and DNA, I think they’re one of the things that make us unique on a biological level, because no two people have all of the same exact scars. We forget about certain scars from time to time and when we rediscover them on our skin, it calls up memories of getting them, of how it happened and what else was going on in our life at that time.
What scars have some sort of special meaning to you?