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The Wisdom of Scars & What They Teach Us

Many, if not most of us at some point in our lives, will or do have scars. Maybe the scars are from a lifesaving or life-changing surgery or from exhibiting bravery after a fall or accident. Alternatively, maybe the the scar is internal, the result of abuse, pain, abandonment, or other forms of emotional turmoil. No matter its origin, a scar or supposed “flaw”can cause trepidation, a desire to hide or shield it from visibility, or an attempt to mask it in some way. A scar may wreak havoc on self-confidence or summon memories one would rather forget.

Though a scar can be uncomfortable or create feelings of isolation, several years ago, I learned that in Japanese culture, “flaws” or scars are often celebrated. Broken objects are often repaired with gold and the flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. How wonderful to think of our own physical/internal scars or flaws in this way, as symbol for our distinctive beauty and uniqueness and how they can be perceived in a positive light.

Our scars, internal or external, or even both, can fade, disappear entirely and suddenly reappear after a considerable length of time. This, however, does not symbolize weakness, but merely that we are human, evolving, changing, learning, and growing each day, shifting perspective, and encountering new people, places, and experiences. When scars reopen or emerge, they offer a chance to learn from what they represent and serve as a compass to continued healing.

For me, many of my most painful scars are internal, a leftover result of friendships lost for reasons unknown, painful endings to relationships and more.Then there are other scars, those of the visible, physical kind, serving as reminders of my strength, courage, and zest for a challenge.One of them, a scar on my chin is the result of humorously walking in my dad’s shoes as a 2-year-old. Wanting to be an adult like him, I still recall confidently strutting around in his dress shoes until losing my balance and hitting my chin against the wooden coffee table. Many tears and bandages ensued and today, though the scar is dramatically faded to the point where I rarely, if ever notice it, when I do see it, I view it not as simply a scar, but a sign of bravery; a sign of taking a chance and believing in myself.

Instead of hiding or shielding a supposed flaw or a scar, recognize it as a unique complement and accessory to your story, having been subjected to a test and are still standing. Scars serve as symbols of strength, a means to distinguish oneself from another, and if nothing else, a part of one’s unique narrative.

Scars are not meant to be traps or cages keeping us stagnant or imprisoned. Rather, they serve as roadmaps, documenting stories, and poignant moments in our lives, often as a testament to internal and external strength. Sometimes, our own scars can heal not only us, but others, as well. They let us share a story if we choose and uphold the ability to inspire others. In fact, a few short days ago, entertainer and singer, Selena Gomez took to Instagram to share a snapshot of her kidney transplant scar, a direct result of her Lupus complications. In the past, Gomez stated for years she tried to hide or disguise it, but suddenly realized the symbolization behind her scar and all it represents. Instead of continuing to conceal her scar, she chooses to be proud and confident of how far she has come, employing wisdom and strength, and allowing courage and bravery to take flight. Our stories and and scars all can be the impetus we ourselves and others need to take the steps towards healing.

Today and moving forward, when noticing, feeling, or reflecting on the scars you’ve amassed throughout life, see and feel them as a roadmap towards healing, a symbol of your strongest self and a torch shedding light on how far you’ve come.