As I sat on my favorite bench, the fresh breeze lapped at my body and covered me with fall.
My nostrils delivered pine-filled air to my lungs. The blissful screams echoing around the playground filled my ears, and the sun peeked through the fiery leaves of the canopy above me.
My eyes drifted toward a little boy dusting off dirt from his clothes. He had landed face down in the dirt—knees scraped, rivers roiling down his cheeks.
Yet, he stood up, chest puffed out like a triumphant soldier.
After he gathered himself, he ran over to his friend and they admired the huge gash he had acquired on his knee. It was as if the two boys collected scabs not as victimizing wounds but instead as prizes gifted by life.
They looked at each other, their eyes huge as if they had just seen the red Power Ranger and not a bashed knee. Then, they skipped away giggling to the other side of the playground, likely initiating another game of lava monster.
I couldn’t help but smile.
I didn’t know either of the little boys, but I loved them.
I loved how their spirits galloped playfully through life. I loved their innocence. But, most of all, I loved their resilience and urge to keep moving through life no matter what ate them and spat them out.
I loved how they admired their wounds.
I draped my arms across my body, protecting myself from the flurrying fall breeze. As I watched the boys run off, I squeezed my arms tighter around my body, giving myself a hug. At the same time, I lifted my cheeks to the sky to feel the warm embrace of the sun.
I brought my hands up to my face, and with the tips of my fingers, I outlined the uneven breaks of my skin. The scars had haunted me my whole life. I saw them as crevices of imperfection.
I picked up my right hand and traced the thick skin on my left arm. The scar was etched on me like the amazon river, continuing for miles of twists and turns.
My mind floated to the stretch marks on my breasts and how they revealed the cyclical expansion of my body.
I felt the vibrations of my heart and acknowledged the countless scars that go unseen.
After a lifetime of loathing my scars, I found they represented more than what meets the eye. Each crevice and dilapidated dip represented my journey toward self-acceptance and self-love.
Today, when I wake up and look in the mirror, I smile at the strong-willed woman staring back at me. I don’t try to the hide the crevices on my face or the line on my arm. I don’t ignore what happened to my heart over several years of opening it to life. When I look in the mirror, I see the beautiful abundance of life etched onto my skin.
As the young boys admired their scars, I acknowledged that it has taken me a lifetime to return to that childish admiration of my own wounds.
Deeply entrenched in cocoa butter, obsessed with fading and forgetting, and comparing myself to the flawless faces on Instagram, I had tried for years to remove my scars and forget about them. I believed they made me ugly.
But all they made me was me.
They showed me where life had taken me—like little reminders of my falls and triumphs. My scars are the glue that has held me together when life seemingly wanted to break me.
Scars are meant to teach us that we are strong; they are the notes in our life’s symphony. It has taken me a long time to learn that this tough scar tissue is my superpower, and these marks don’t sit useless on our bodies.
They sit there to remind us of our strength when we are stuck in the darkness.
They sit there to show us we can put ourselves back together after a hard fall.
They sit there to remind us that to rise, we must first fall.
They sit there to show us that we have experienced life.
When life presents us with another opportunity to rise, let’s rise—untethered by the fear and pain of falling.
Let’s welcome these opportunities like a familiar friend, knowing that scars are what have made us. They have brought us to where we stand today.
When we fall down on the playground of life, let’s brush ourselves off, rise triumphantly, and blissfully run onward showing off our scars.
Because scars are not our weakness—scars show us we can fall apart, put ourselves back together, and begin again right where we left off.