I recently completed one of the most uncomfortable tasks I’ve ever had to do in my life.
Now, for someone who could be considered vain, it might have been considered a difficult burden. To those who don’t really care about their appearance, sure, it was a minor annoyance at most.
But for me, it was a rough, long, awkward week.
I had minor outpatient surgery on my face last week, which I am thankful wasn’t too big of a deal.
If you saw or talked with me, you probably noticed or I probably told you about it before you could ask.
While this was a routine procedure that dermatologists do on a daily basis, for me it was a lesson in how to be comfortable in your own skin, literally.
For several days after the surgery I was tasked with wearing a massive, white bandage on my cheek to cover the stitches I received. It looked like I just had my wisdom teeth removed.
I made sure to wear my sunglasses everywhere and when people stared, I would smile lopsidedly and tell them one of the various excuses I made up. Those included: shark attack, bar fight and zombie biting my cheek off.
But most of their responses surprised me. The majority of those I told responded they had something similar done and empathized with the anxiety of having a massive bandage on the face.
A few days later, I was able to downsize the giant bandage and replace it with a much smaller, flesh colored Band-Aid. Of course it was less noticeable, but I still had something on my face that didn’t belong and felt very awkward.
Again, I would notify people prior to talking to me why I had this covering my face, and still their responses surprised me. Most would say, “If you didn’t say anything, I wouldn’t have noticed!”
And while I appreciate their kindness at trying to not embarrass me more, I can’t say I truly believe them.
Trust me, it’s noticeable. I had to look at my face all week. It’s hard to not see it, except maybe at night or in a dim room. I became a pro at positioning myself so the “good” side of my face was closest to whomever I was speaking to.
But no matter if those around me were staring, making jokes or could honestly see my facial conundrum, I realized, of course right before I was to get my stitches out that this was all in my head.
While I thought I looked like a giant hole had been punched in my face or a massive spider was dangling from my cheek, others just saw a bandage and probably thought, “She must have been hurt or had a procedure done.” And that’s true, I did.
And why is that so bad that I was taking care of my skin and health?
I never really thought I was one of those people who are vain about their appearance, but now I realize why I was so worried.
As a society we value how we look so much and focus incessantly on our outer appearance.
Of course when I interviewed people, sat in staff meetings or went to the store, people may have glanced or possibly even asked what happened, but, for the most part, they didn’t act any differently toward me.
We build up beauty so much that when a crack forms in the external facade, whether a wrinkle, zit or bandage on the face, we crumble. It doesn’t change who we are, our value or intelligence.
But it does change how we see our self-worth. And that’s just sad.
This mini self-esteem test was a wakeup call of sorts for me. I realized I am the product of my society in that I do value beauty and outward appearances probably more than I should.
And while I wouldn’t want to walk around with a bandage on my face again, for the sheer fact it was quite irritating, I did learn something about myself and my community.
Who would’ve thought you could learn life lessons from a Band-Aid?