Just as I am This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I was born with a congenital mole on one side of my face which stretched significantly over my nose and cheek. As early as six months, I began a series of four surgeries in which doctors attempted to remove the possibly cancerous mole from my face. One procedure involved stretching my face to expand skin tissue, and as a result, my nose and mouth are pulled significantly in one direction on my face. Due to this seemingly "deformed" facial feature, I was often ridiculed as a child, both through judgmental stares and questions, as well as hurtful nicknames such as "crooked-nosed girl." I often found it difficult to understand why I was ridiculed as being abnormal, when I am a fully functioning and completely average girl, and answering questions such as "Why does your face look so weird" offended me and sometimes left me too hurt to answer. Through the kind hearts of certain open-minded people, however, I found lasting friends, some of whom I am still close with today, who appreciated and loved me for my personality and eventually forgot about my facial abnormality. At the age of ten, however, I decided to have yet another surgery, in order to alleviate the severity of my crooked nose and mouth and possibly be seen in a new, more "normal" light. Though the surgery was successful, my nose and mouth remain noticeably pulled on one side of my face, and I still receive surprised and confused expressions upon first meetings and chance glances. These harsh judgments, made before someone even takes the time to know and understand who I am, however, have cast a very positive light in my life. I have developed both sympathy and empathy for to those both like me and much less fortunate then I in regard to physical and mental disability and deformity. By experiencing the unjustified alienation and ignorant criticism firsthand, I have both grown beyond feeling despaired by such heartless actions and grown into understanding the pain that others "in my shoes" must feel, as well. I never cast a strange, judgmental glance or uncalled-for alienation in the direction of anyone suffering from any kind of physical or mental difference, as I myself know that each and every one of those people is unique and significant and worth knowing and loving and ultimately understanding, just as every other person is - and just as I am.





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