Mask Removed: It’s Never As Bad As I Imagine

A few months ago I shared in a blog that at the beginning of the school year, I met another mom at the bus drop off. Of course, because of all things pandemic related, we were wearing our masks. Over the next few weeks of hanging out together, we exchanged numbers and decided it would be fun to get together for coffee and chat.

That day, as soon as I left the bus stop, the thoughts started snowballing through my brain. I thought “I met this mom while I was wearing a mask. She has no idea that I have a cleft. What is her reaction going to be? What will I say? Will I have to endure the inevitable look to my nose and mouth and then the quick look away?”.

It’s Always Worse In My Head

Fast forward a few months, and we finally were able to make our coffee date plan. Admittedly, I was still having all those initial anxious thoughts of what her reaction would be when we removed our masks and she saw my full face for the first time.

I can tell you, that the thoughts I have about removing my mask around people I have never met before is always worse than what really ends up happening.

Fear Can Mask Our Minds

If we let it, our minds can come up with some pretty crazy scenarios of how people may react to our facial difference. But if we let our fears take control, we rob ourselves of truly wonderful experiences. And with mask requirements lessening in many places around our country, the idea of people seeing our facial difference, for the first time in some cases, can be quite nerve racking for many of us.

But do you want to know what my new friend did when I took off my mask? ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING! We had a lovely chat and talked about all kinds of things and found several commonalities between us.

If I had let my initial hesitation stop me from going to the coffee date, I would have missed out on this new friendship. What a tragedy that would have been!

Make A Thought Correction

So, when you feel those thoughts of insecurity start to creep in, make a thought correction. Tell yourself that you know what you are thinking isn’t true or accurate. That nothing about your outward appearance needs to be explained away. You are made up of a million little things and if someone doesn’t take the time to get to know you just because of what they see on the outside, it is their loss, not yours.


Real Talk

No Holds Barred

Any fans of The Red Table Talk here? Oh, my goodness I love that show. The three women – Jada, Gammy, and Willow – have created a wonderfully honest and no holds barred space for communication. The guests on the show step into ring, you might say, and share, work through, and expose themselves in painful and beautiful ways. The ladies always get down to the “real talk”. I love that phrase.

Click here to check out one of their best episodes in my opinion..featuring the one and only Brene Brown.

My Seat at the Table..

I experienced my own version of a red table talk a few days ago with a good friend and mentor. She took me to task on a few things and did not let me skate by with excuses for why I was not doing what I needed to do. Have you ever had a conversation like that? Tough talk is never easy to hear, but when done from a place of caring and love it can be just the motivation needed to get out of your own way, drop the excuses, and get to it.

What was the topic of this talk, you may be asking? Well friends, I’ll tell you. My lack of authenticity. Ouch. That was hard to hear. My friend reminded me that the whole purpose behind my starting Dragonfly Paradigm was to share my story as a woman born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and the lessons I’ve learned from that unique experience. Has that information been found anywhere on the website, blog posts, social media? NO! Everything that I have put out into the world so far has been lacking in that story. I have been unauthentic because I was afraid. If you missed last week’s blog post, click here to read it now. Apparently I need to read it again too.

Over It..

I had my first surgery before the age of 6 months old. I had a total of thirteen surgeries by the time I was 14 years old. To say that I was over all of it by then is an understatement. My doctors said that I could do cosmetic surgery at that point to try to improve the overall look of my nose and lip, but I declined. I was done. It was at that point I started to solidify the walls I had begun to put up around me.

Teasing, bullying and the like was a regular occurrence when I was younger, but one of the benefits of growing up in a small town was that you know everyone for almost your entire school career. Those that teased and bullied me early on eventually tired of it because either they grew up a bit or it wasn’t new and fun to them anymore. I also had a good group of friends that had my back, and even some that were more popular than I would stand up for me when I really needed it.

The Real World..

Once out of high school and starting my college experience in the “real world”, the core group of friends who knew me and had my back were gone. My high school of 500 total students was replaced by a university world that had 500 students in my introduction to chemistry class. Culture shock was an understatement. I was that nervous scared little girl again and I built up my walls even higher and thicker. Although I did not drink or really do anything too out of control in my high school years, once in college alcohol became my go-to tool for lessening the anxiety and nervousness I had from trying to not stand out as the girl with the weird face, and fit in with all the other kids who seemed so at ease at the parties, social functions etc. It was a tough time.

Things did get better though. Not ready for the university life, I left and found a new passion. Aviation. I’ll save that story for another time, but of course that story has its own heartache and struggle. Life is full of challenges, adversity, and strife. But it is also full of rich and beautiful experiences too. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the way you look at things.

Break It Down..

The armor we form during our young years can stay with us for a really long time, unless we consciously work to break it down ourselves. It is not easy, and definitely not for the faint of heart. There have been many times I find myself regressing to that scared little girl, and others where I find the strength within to face my own fears with courage.

Born This Way..

This face I was born with has been the source of much pain, but it has also given me a unique life that has provided lessons and opportunities. It is my intent to share my story to help others like myself, as well as those that may benefit from new perspectives or points of view.  Consider me a core member of your close friends’ group that always has your back and will give you the “real talk” when you need it.


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