BYUH students share their scars is what made them unique and it’s a badge of honor they carry throughout their life
This is Me
Farah Sokolowski said of having vitiligo, or loss of pigment in blotches on the skin, “I learned to really love my skin. I think it makes me unique, and no one else has it like I do, so I just grew to embrace my differences over the years.” Sokolowski is a senior from Los Angeles majoring in political science.
Sokolowski explained vitiligo is an autoimmune disease where her body attacks certain spots’ ability to produce melanin. According to her, the spots of her vitiligo are pure white since she can’t make melanin in that part of her skin. Even if she goes in the sun, she said those parts of her skin will just burn and then go back to white since it is unable to get darker.
Sokolowski said dealing with her skin differences while growing up was difficult. “I looked different than everybody else, and it made me stand out.” She said sometimes it was good to stand out but other times it was not when she said she would receive mean comments such as, “What’s that on your face?” or “What’s wrong with your skin?” She said, “People thought I had a bad spray tan or my make up was rubbing off in that spot and that made me feel outcast from everybody else.”
“I got it when I was 6 years old. I went to the hospital suddenly because my neck swelled up really big and I couldn’t breathe. The doctors tried all these tests on me, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Then they ended up putting steroids into my neck to get the swelling down and then about a month later vitiligo showed up,” said Sokolowski.
Nothing is a hindrance
Mya Thornton, a freshman from Kailua double majoring in communications and intercultural peacebuilding, said after suffering an injury from gymnastics she said, “I was frustrated. I felt like my injury was holding me back, keeping me from reaching my full potential. But as time went on, I realized something important. My scar was a badge of honor. It showed that I had been through something difficult and come out the other side. It reminded me of how strong I was and how much I had overcome.”
Thornton said she had always been a natural athlete. Ever since she was 3, she said she had excelled in gymnastics. “I would spend hours every day at the gym, practicing flips, jumps and balances. I loved the feeling of soaring through the air, of defying gravity with my body,” said Thornton. Her coaches even told her she had a real shot at making it into big competitions one day, she said.
“I was practicing a difficult routine for my competition where I was flying in the air and landed horribly. I landed awkwardly on my ankle and felt a searing pain shoot up my leg,” said Thornton. She said she fell to the mat, clutched her ankle and gasped in agony.
It turned out that Thornton had sprained her ankle badly and had to wear an aircast boot. She said she was told by the doctors she would need to rest and recover for months. But Thornton was determined, she said, “I didn't want to lose my edge. [I] didn't want to fall behind so I pushed myself to recover to be fully healed.”
She said she was constantly reminded of the injury and the pain she had endured. She said it was a reminder that she needed to take better care of her body, to listen to her limits and not push herself too hard.
While her injury served as a reminder, it also affected Thornton's dance life. She said she found out she couldn't do certain moves as easily as before. Her ankle would ache after long practices, and she said she would have to take breaks to stretch and ice it.
Despite the change, Thornton continued to dance. She said she learned to work with her injury to find new ways to move and express herself. And she said she found out she loved dance even more because of it. “The scar on my ankle wasn't a hindrance. It was a part of who I was, a part of my story and I wouldn't have it any other way,” expressed Thornton.
Saravanan Sekar, a sophomore from India who is majoring in exercise and sports science, said he is a thrill-seeking person. He shared he loved to push himself to the limits, try new things and take risks. One day, Sekar said he and his friends decided to go snorkeling in the ocean, but because of rough waves, he said he decided to hang by the reefs.
“A massive wave hit me. It was like a wall of water, and it sent me tumbling under the surface. I felt my knee hit something hard. My friends rushed over to me, and they could see I was bleeding from a gash on my knee,” he said.
Sekar explained his friends helped him back to shore where they cleaned and bandaged the wound. He said he couldn't stop thinking about what had happened. He realized he had been reckless, he said and that he ignored the promptings of the Holy Ghost to not go too far from the group.
“As I lay in bed that night, I thought about my relationship with Heavenly Father. I realized I had been taking unnecessary risks [and] that I had been ignoring the still small voice that guided me. And I knew that I needed to change,” said Sekar.
Over the next few weeks, Sekar explained he began to pray more earnestly. He expressed he asked for forgiveness for his recklessness, and he promised to be more careful in the future. He said he also listened to the still small voice more diligently, looking for guidance and inspiration.
As he did these things, he said his relationship with Heavenly Father grew stronger. He said he felt peace and joy he had never experienced before. He knew his scar wasn't only the physical reminder of his recklessness, but also how far he had come, he explained.
Whenever he feels the urge to take unnecessary risks, he said he remembers his scar. “I remember the pain and the fear, but I also remember the peace and the joy that comes from following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I know that as long as I listen to that still small voice, I will be guided safely through life's waves.”