There is MORE to me than what you SEE

Jennifer Aguilar, Online Assistant Editor

When you first look at someone, the color of their eyes, the style of their hair, and the smile on their face are the things you tend to notice the most. For few, marks from years ago are the first and at times the only thing that is seen about them. People like to stare and be curious, some even dare to ask the question burning in their mind, “what happened.” But there is more to these individuals than the scars they have grown to admire about themselves, it is just not as easy to see.

Here at the high school, there are students that have a prominent feature about themselves whether it is a scar or birthmark, it is the first thing and unfortunately can be the only thing their peers know them for. Each one has their own story behind their marks, but there is more to them than what you see.  Having something as prominent as a scar on your face does bring up a bundle of questions from how it happened to what it is in general, Junior Asa Cottingham has been all too familiar with the prying question since he was young.

“A lot of people ask me about it all the time, it is an easy conversation starter to get things going. When people think of me they are like “oh he is the one with the birthmark,” said Cottingham.

To every scar, there is a story. There are no two stories exactly alike, nor two scars that are shaped the same, and that is the beauty of it. Cottingham was more than welcome to share his one of a kind story to us and anyone that was curious.

“I was born with it, so it is kinda like a birthmark that was as big as my whole left cheek. As a baby, I had three plastic surgeries to get it minimized. I could have gotten a fourth one that would have removed it, but the doctor said that if I would have gotten it, there was a chance I could go blind in my left eye, so my parents decided to just keep it so it’s kinda cool to have the scar, it’s unique,” said Cottingham.

Scars tend to intimidate people that are not too familiar with them, or does not have any themselves. For Senior Zoie Riggs, though does not have any scars herself, still has an eye-catching birthmark that she has been known for since she was in elementary school.

“I was born with it, it’s called a port wine stain, and it goes to the back of my head and around if I was bald. I had to get laser surgery for it, and since my birthmark is so big, I had to get 100 dots. The laser surgery is basically like tattoo removal, and it leaves like little purple dots and you have to put cream over them, and you can’t go out in the sun and things like that,” said Riggs.

When you have something for so long, you completely forget that it is even there, in this case, a scar or birthmark. So it is very easy to disregard that what is invisible to you, is still seen by everyone else around you.

“Some people ask me straight up like ‘what is it,’ and I prefer that then people making up what they think it is. Some people, I mean I don’t notice it, but when I’m out with my boyfriend, he always goes ‘do you ever notice that people stare?’ and I just say no, I don’t notice. But I guess people do stare,” said Riggs.

For the most part, the students at the high school with unique and noticeable features have had them since they were born and they have learned to live with and even admire their one of a kind aspect. For Senior Marlo Blaich, she has had to endure a lifelong heart disease, that has marked the center of her body as an everyday reminder of the surgeries she has had in the past years.

“I have a heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot, and I’ve had it ever since I was born. When I was four months old, I had my first surgery, cause of the disease, It means there are four things wrong with my heart, and whenever I was four months old, I had my first surgery to fix one of the things, which was a hole between two of my ventricles,” said Blaich.

Just like Cottingham and Riggs, Blaich has learned to live with her disease and scars and is no longer self-conscious of her own story.

“Whenever I was younger, I did not think it really mattered to me cause it was not that big of a deal, but as I got older, I got kind of self-conscious about it because it is in the middle of my body, and I don’t know, it’s a thing that gets drawn attention to and it’s just there. Now I have just accepted it and I don’t mind it anymore,” said Blaich.

Again, people tend to have a natural instinct to be intimidated to scars or marks like the ones these students have, but in reality, they have grown to be proud of the stories they get to tell on a daily basis. Their scars make them who they are and they never decline the chance to tell the history on their marks.

“There is always a story behind scars, it makes a person unique because not everyone has a scar on their face usually they have them on their arms or legs and people do not get to see them, but for me, everyone sees them and it is cool to show off in a way,” said Cottingham.

There is always a story behind scars, it makes a person unique because not everyone has a scar on their face usually they have them on their arms or legs and people do not get to see them, but for me, everyone sees them and it is cool to show off in a way”

— Cottingham

To Riggs, even though she has learned to live her life with her birthmark, she believes there is much more to her rather than “the girl with the birthmark.”

“I think I’m really nice, and when you are talking about someone to your friends, and there’s more than one Zoie, and they ask which Zoie, and they’re talking about me, they say “oh the one with the birthmark?” So it would be nice if they didn’t describe me as the one with the birthmark and instead it would be “oh the one that’s really nice” or something along those lines,” said Riggs.

There is more to people than what you see, there is more to their story than what is shown. Ask questions, listen to their story, be informed, but do not limit people to what is seen, rather learn what is naked to the eye, because every person, scar or not, has more than one story and feature to them. For these students, one of their stories is simply told without saying a single word.