Imagine this: You wake up on a beautiful, peaceful day. You’re happy and full of life, just starting out the second grade. Life is bliss; simple--and you're young. Hardship, pain, and loss is something you have not even had to experience yet. Yet on this seemingly perfect day, you look in the mirror and notice a massive clump of hair missing from your head. An entire crater of hair, the size of a tennis ball, gone.
“What’s happening to me? What’s wrong with me?” Your young and immature mind can hardly comprehend.
You talk to your Mom and Dad about what’s happening. They explain to you how your grandfather has an autoimmune disorder known as Alopecia that makes you lose your hair. That’s probably what’s happening to you.
And could you imagine, in this day and age where society is so critical of every aspect of you, from your personality to the way you walk, how you dress, what your profession is, things that they have no business criticizing for, that suddenly now, you lose your hair? It's mortifying.
You go to school. You get weird looks. You hear whispers of people judging you, calling you a “skinhead” or a “freak” and assuming you must be sick and dying of cancer. Before you know it, those whispers turn into conversation, and those conversations turn into screams. You’re being bullied. Judged for your own appearance that you can not even help. Kids that are bigger, stronger, and more confident then you insult you to your face, call you “cancer head,” demean your self-worth, push you around and make you feel like you’re a freak of nature.
You go through this for YEARS, especially after shaving your head. You become so insecure you get a wig. You have to maintain it every day, wash it for hours just to upkeep its appearance as "real hair." Just to fit in. Many kids, knowing you before as “the bald kid,” keep trying to pull off your wig, trying to see if you’re a fraud.
After nights of crying yourself to sleep, of feeling like a victim, of those beautiful, peaceful days having vanished from your life, you realize something--why should HAIR be what makes you less of a person? No. You’re sick of being the victim. Sick of being pushed around. You’re not going to let other people control YOUR life. It’s time for a change.
You ditch the wig, once and for all. You stand up to those people who tried to put you down. You take back your happiness, you take back from society the dignity they stole from you. You own your look, and your friends and family love you more for it.
Four years pass. You walk confidently as you are, impenetrable to society’s standards. You are beautiful because you are you. And nobody can take that away from you. You decide it’s time to share your story.
You find an app, TikTok, and start making comedic Alopecia videos that inspire millions of people, and gain hundreds of thousands of followers in the process. You gain national backing from The National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and they invite you to come speak at their national conference. You take absolute control of your life and walk with such bold confidence that people hardly even notice the insecurity that took your happiness away from you in the first place.
You get to inspire people and make their lives better because of all you went through.
You almost forget all you had to go through, because you so valiantly fought through all of society’s pressures and overcame it so long ago that to you, it’s a thing of the past.
These are the shoes I’ve walked through. And I thank you for walking through them with me.