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The Importance of Being Seen and Heard When You Look Different

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I feel very lucky. From a very young age, my parents took me out into the world. We traveled, going to national parks, theme parks, restaurants… all kinds of public places. This gave me a familiarity with what it’s like to have a facial difference in public and instilled a sense of confidence. I learned I could go anywhere and do anything without worrying about the reactions of others.

I’m not sure how this translated into a gift for public speaking, but I’m sure glad it’s a fear I do not have.

People with differences need to have a voice. We need to stand up for ourselves, and not allow others to speak for us. Elementary school students, middle school students, high school students, and adults will benefit from our stories surrounding the importance of embracing differences, resilience, and developing our own identity without worrying what others think.

This past November, I was honored to be given the opportunity to exercise my voice by presenting a TEDx talk for the Sno-Isle Library TEDx event. My 15 minute talk, “Beauty Is an Inside Job” explores the true meaning of “being attractive.”

Those of us with “differences” need to be seen. The more we do so, the more commonplace our differences will be and the less adverse reactions we will get. Like it or not, we are the educators. No one can put down the stereotypes and dispel the assumptions better than we can.

Regardless of what you look like or what challenges you face, no one deserves the power to control the choices you make about how you live your life. Don’t give people that power. It’s your life. Own it. Take control of it. Be seen. Be heard.

And by all means, have fun!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: January 31, 2017
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