For the end to 2016 and the beginning of 2017, California has had a lot of rainy days. And the one thing I noticed the most was that even light rains forced people to go through the hassle of taking out their umbrellas to defend themselves against the harmless droplets of water that fell from the sky.
I have eczema and severe allergies. This means that anything that I eat or come into contact with can cause rashes and eczema flare ups all over my body. Eczema gives my skin a dry and wrinkly texture, dotted with red cracked areas. Small weather changes, extreme weather, the environment around me and the food I choose to eat can greatly affect my physical appearance. But in the end, Eczema is not contagious and I can hide most of it with long blue jeans and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket. The only problem is that my fingers cannot be hidden as easily, so the way they look may scare people, and not make them want to interact with me because they think that they might get a flesh-eating disease (if it were something this serious, I wouldn’t be walking around).
Growing up, I’ve always hated my hands and constantly thought to myself,
Why do these hands have to be so useful yet so uncomfortable and ugly?
Nothing about my entire body lowered my self-esteem as much as the cracked and dry fingers on my hand. They were the rebellious parts of me that were hurting me. Because I couldn’t stop scratching them to relieve the never-ending itch attacks, I had to resort to cutting my nails short. Even then, I still found my finger occasionally swollen red and cracked from the weather.
I remember vividly being at a preschool as a child and playing in an imaginary kitchen with a few other girls. We were playing happily, but when I went to serve them the play food, they saw the rashes on my fingers and immediately told me that I wasn’t allowed to play in that area because there were too many people playing at the same time. Through out my childhood, I transferred to many different preschools and daycare centers, but one thing was the same all of these place. I always ended up playing by myself.
I was like the rain. My presence could not be destroyed just because people felt uncomfortable with me around, but I was pushed away and avoided just like the way rain is reflected away by umbrellas and rain coats even tough it is harmless to people. These experiences and interactions lead me to be a shy person who was uncomfortable with the way I look and scared of making new acquaintances. Even today, when I meet new people, I automatically hide my hands in my pockets, jacket sleeves hoping that they won’t see my fingers before they get to know the real me first.
Sometimes, I wish the world would be more understanding towards people who are different. Haven’t people realized how hypocritical and ironic everything is yet? Society tells everyone to be body positive and confident in oneself, but at the same time, most of the people in society are too scared to approach someone who is different.
It’s not only me and my eczema. There are people who are blocked out because they have a different skin color, a different sex orientation, a different cultural upbringing. Obviously,we all have insecurities, but we don’t need to be putting each other down on top of that. I hope next time it rains, you will let it freely fall on you without worry, and that the next time you meet someone, you take the time to get to know their personality and characteristics, not just their physical appearances. Who knows, that person could have made a big impact in your life.
PS. I don’t use umbrellas because I know the raindrops won’t hurt me. At most, I use a jacket on rainy days to:
A) keep warm
B) cover my fingers