allow me to momentarily channel my inner book-worm and share a quote from the epic Charles Dickens:
"it was the best of times, it was the worst of times"
[what a fabulous opening for a book, right?...]
[and, YES, I AM cherry-picking this quote out of a story centering around the intimate political and personal intermingling of humans and love triangles and other conflicts between democratic and aristocratic principles during the French Revolution...]
but this quote "speaks" to me.
my alopecia has truly been the BEST thing AND the WORST thing that has happened to me.
my trip to Virginia Beach with my mother really opened me up to the BEST and WORST aspects of this disease:
let me be quite frank with you- it was not glamorous or graceful when i took off my baseball cap and swam in the Atlantic Ocean. it took an entire day for me to build up the courage to even do so. my mom and i spent over twelve hours in the car, windows open, blasting Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars [how #basic could we possibly be], and getting stuck in an excessive amount of traffic jams before we reached Virginia Beach.
for the entire twelve hour drive, i kept my baseball cap on.
i kept my cap on for twelve hours, despite the fact that i was next to the most loving and accepting woman i've ever known in my lifetime. i kept my cap on despite the fact that my head was a tad itchy, for probably eight of those twelve hours. i kept my cap on, even though all i wanted was to take it off.
because despite the fact that my inner voice reassures me that I AM NOT ALONE and that I AM OKAY, sometimes, i don't want to accept this disease. sometimes, i 100% still feel ALONE. i sat in that car for twelve hours and would turn to look at my beautiful, energetic mother and her beautiful curly blond hair flapping all over the place in the wind, and i'd tighten my baseball cap, feeling that i was no longer "normal".
so, yeah, there are moments where i feel totally out of place, like an alien who just doesn't belong. and there were major moments on this trip where i felt that way to the extreme.
the beauty of these "worst" moments was my ability to recognize my feelings, accept them, and finally,
i now hold the most incredible memories in my heart from this trip with my mother- our first morning on the beach, i noticed dolphins swimming by the shoreline as the warm morning sun rose over the horizon. i do not consider myself an exceptional writer, so my words can't describe the beauty of the sky, the water, the warmth & wind. the beauty was so breathtaking that i ran [*waddled*] into the surf [in a VERY NON-BREATHTAKING way], tripping over my own feet and tumbling headfirst into crashing waves in a VERY awkward attempt to join the dolphins.
my trusty baseball cap held tightly to my scalp as i jumped into the waves. but, despite the breathtaking beauty surrounding me, i felt restricted. the joy in my surroundings spoke to my heart, and my inner voice whispered,
i turned around to look at my beautiful mother, her hair blowing in the salt water wind, and i yelled to her,
"I'M TAKING OFF MY CAP!"
and then i did.
i yanked off my loyal [now very soaked and salty] baseball cap, and ran back into the surf.
there were other people in the water at this point, and i believe we all had the same intention, to join the dolphins, because deep down many of us all want to be mermaids [...at least i hope i'm not the only weird one on this planet...].
i squealed with joy as i ran toward the dolphins and it felt SO GOOD to not be restricted by my insecurity, my alopecia. as i forged forward, a gigantic wave sent me flopping and somersaulting back to shore.
SO. AWESOME. SO. AWKWARD.
as i came up for air, a few people in the water turned to make sure i was okay... i could feel their stares. i could feel my mother watching me. i took a deep breath and sat on the shore, my baldness shining, reflecting the sun.
i let the waves wash over me.
and i felt happy.
moments like this, make me grateful.
so, yes, for the past five months, it's been the BEST of times, and it's been the WORST of times.
i experience major highs and lows. but without both of them, i wouldn't be the person i am today.
i am so incredibly grateful for the highs, and i am equally as grateful for the lows.
my journey, with all the incredible highs and terrible lows, gives me a story to tell. it is the greatest gift of life to embrace every moment, every experience. it is your OWN.
nothing can stop you, nothing can restrict you if you open yourself up to everything life has to offer.
you are brave, you are courageous.