Back in the summer of 2005 I was in a very bad car accident, I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt so I went flying out the back windshield. It left multiple scars on the side of my face and neck along with my inner bicep. Ever since I’ve had trouble keeping my head up because people are always staring at them and looking at me like I’m some murderer or whatever. Especially in classes in college, everybody sitting to the left of me will just stare at my scars while I’m trying to take notes. My scars interfere with my confidence and self esteem greatly. Moreover, I’m tend to be quiet at times and think negatively as a result. I do have a lot of friends, more than you’re average 19 year old but I don’t like being out with people because people I don’t know just stare.. Can you help me try to get past this? I’d appreciate it greatly, thank you. (age 19, from U.S.)Facial Scars from Car Accident
Facial Scars from Car Accident
A: I’m so sorry to hear about your situation but glad that you are still alive to tell your story. I know it sounds cliché, but we all have scars of some sort, some more visible than others. As we get older, we learn that how we regard ourselves is much more important than what others think of us. Many of us also learn that some of our most painful or challenging life experiences are the very ones we would never choose to erase because they have helped form the foundation of who we are.
Your story reminds me of an inspirational young man whom I read about several years ago, so much so that I looked up an article about him in hopes that it might help you. This young man was born without legs and also received plenty of stares from other people. However, he began taking pictures from his angle and created a photographic memoir about his life. Here is a link to just one story about him: “Born without legs, living with ‘double takes’.”
People will look because they are curious and hopefully empathetic. Some say it is just human nature to be more drawn to tragedy than positive events. You can watch the nightly news to see evidence of this trend.
Rather than being intimidated or embarrassed by their looks, perhaps you could use it as a way to open up conversation with some people you might not have spoken with otherwise. At some point, you might seek ways to overcome your tragedy by giving back, for example, you might want to get involved in campaigns about the importance of wearing seat belts or speak to a group struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Or, perhaps, you will learn to ignore the scars and the stares, and just go about living your life. If you can’t seem to get past it, especially if it is interfering with your classes, I would suggest speaking with a therapist who can help.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts