Despite me fancying myself a smart woman, I have always been very clumsy. I have never been the quiet, delicate type of girl. I am very good at memorising things and have girly taste, but I’m terribly absent-minded and tomboyish (Does it even make sense to you readers?). About a month ago, I did the unthinkable and took my clumsiness to the extreme. I burned my chest with a hot plate fresh out the oven.

It was quite painful, but I’ve developed a high tolerance of physical pain from all those tripping and falling from my childhood. At first I thought it was nothing because I burned my fingers all the time from cooking (Think about how rarely I cook! The incident rate is really high!) or curling my hair with a hot iron. It wasn’t until my mom pointed it out a few hours later that I realized a dark triangular spot has formed on my chest. I rubbed some aloe vera gel on it and thought it would heal soon enough, but the wound got nastier over the next few days and started itching really bad, so my colleagues convinced me to go to the doctor.

The doctor said my wound was infected with bacteria because of the poor (or the lack of) first aid I gave myself, and there was a chance that it might leave a scar. Of course I was a bit worried. After all I’m a pretty high maintenance girl. When I told my mom, she jokingly said if it did leave a scar, I could always get a tattoo to cover it.

The idea of a mom-approved tattoo was really appealing. For the longest time, I thought tattoos were stupid because people often change their mind through the course of life and tattoos are supposed to be forever. I knew it was unlikely that I would ever get one, but at that moment I was intrigued, so I started looking up cute tattoo ideas on Pinterest.

A few weeks have gone by, today I’d looked at my chest again before I showered. My wound has healed, but I can still see the uneven pigmentation. I’m not sure if it’s gonna stay this way forever. My doctor did say moisturising that area would help evening the skin tone, but I just didn’t bother to do that.

Surprisingly, I’m starting to think the idea of a scar is actually pretty cool. Every girl strives to be perfect. Well, of course I would wanna get rid of it ASAP if it was on my face, but a scar on my chest isn’t exactly a deformation. In fact, it makes me different.

It was when I noticed I really have grown out of the crazy perfectionist that I once was.  I used to want to be perfect with a capital p. I tried to hide all my imperfections and pain from others because I didn’t want people to perceive me as not good enough. I rarely told anyone about my parental problem, my speech impairment, my career failures and what-not because those experiences were like scars on my heart, reminding myself how imperfect I was.

Last week, I spoke openly to a class full of aspiring PR practitioners of how I failed big time at my previous job, how traumatised I was from the experience, how I was unable to handle the politics there, and how I almost jumped off the bridge afterwork one day. My students looked dumbfounded. I guess they never thought their seemingly confident lecturer could have been so fragile at one point. I then told them how I took the risk (and Steve  Jobs’ advice) to follow my heart and eveutually figured out an even better career path, one that I’m truly passionate about, thanks to the time out I was so brave to grant myself.

Now I’ve come to look at these emotional scars from a different perspective. Those experiences were sad, of course, but they made me who I am. I had all the reasons in the world to give up, but I lived through those sad, sad moments and came out a better person. These scars no longer remind me of my pain. They remind me of how unique and incredible I’ve become.


About Nicky

Nicky English is a journalist, an educator, a podcaster, a couch potato, a dreamer, and a child at heart. Learning is her passion, so is the English language, which she believes is the tool to unlock the door of knowledge. Born in Hong Kong, she received intensive writing training at The University of Iowa, where she double-majored in journalism and political science. Apart from the Hawkeye State, she’s lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. When she was a guest student at Georgetown University, she fell in love with Washington, D.C. She also has a Master of Arts in Communication. A little side note—she cannot imagine a world without her Mac and iDevices. Like many crazy ones, she hopes to change the world one day at a time.
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3 Responses to Scars

  1. Brenda says:

    Scars are proof you’re a survivor. And survivors are forces to be reckoned with. Great post!

    • Nicky says:

      Thanks! I believe failures either make us wiser or bitter. It’s up to us to decide how we want to be shaped.

      • Brenda says:

        Scars aren’t always failures. Sometimes life gives us blows that leave marks, and we are not to blame, not the cause. I agree with you about failure, in general, we can never succeed if we are afraid to fail, then we won’t take risks. I prefer to live with as little bitterness as possible, it’s toxic to joy.

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