I was in sixth grade when I started noticing the things about myself that were different. The most obvious difference was my skin. I don't tan. I burn and then go back to my pasty white skin.
I was dubbed Casper. It could have been worse, I suppose.
And then it got worse.
"Did your mama drop you in a tub of bleach?" was just one of the cracks they made about my pale skin.
It wasn't bullying. No, it was just inconsiderate children not knowing when to stop because they're hurting another human being.
The day it stopped was the worst day of all. Incessantly pointing out how pale I was. Making jokes that weren't funny...at least to me.
I felt like less and less likeable the longer the barrage continued.
I finally left the room without a word to my teacher or fellow students. I ran to the bathroom and cried, wishing with everything in me that I was not the person I was.
If you can’t see something beautiful about yourself
Get a better mirror
Look a little closer
Stare a little longer
Eventually I stopped listening to the voice in my head telling me that being different was a bad thing. I learned to appreciate my pale skin. I stopped caring so much what my peers thought about me. I figured out how to like myself as I was.
It may seem like a trivial matter, this issue of having pale skin. So, let me add some context: I was eleven and lived in Florida.
It mattered to me, even if it didn't matter to anyone else.
It's still a battle sometimes to like parts of me that I view as less than perfect. But I have never let myself go back to feeling as if the person I am isn't good enough.
I hope everyone who sees this video goes out to find a better mirror, take a closer look and stare a little longer until there's no doubt in their mind that they are beautiful and valuable, just as they are.
Kindness Week in Ottawa is wrapping up today - let's go be kind to one another every day for another year, my friends.