Being different is not easy. I realized it when my friends started avoiding me because of my medical condition.
I was only 14 years old at the time, and I had no idea what my illness meant. I often asked my mom why she asked me to wear a wig all the time, but she had never given me a clear answer. She simply said I had a disease that caused moderate to severe hair loss in people and that I would be fine when I grew up.
But guess what? That never happened, and I spent the rest of my life wearing a wig. Yes, my mother lied to me when I was a child, but I was completely unaware of it until I confronted her one day.
My friends and I had gone to an amusement park that day. While everyone else was enjoying the rides, I sat alone on a bench because I was afraid of heights and rides in general.
When my friend Mark noticed that I was sitting alone, he approached me and began pressuring me to join him and others on a roller coaster. “Come on, Eden!” Mark said. “Don’t be such a bore! Look, everyone’s having so much fun!”
“I’m fine, Mark,” I replied quietly. “You guys go ahead!”
“What, no! You have to come with us! It is our last school picnic, Eden. How can you miss it?” Mark insisted.
“But Mark…” I began speaking when he and others interrupted me. “Eden! Eden! Eden! Come on! You can do it!”
Finally, they coerced me into going on the ride. I was so scared that I closed my eyes and clutched the end of the seat tightly. But when the ride was over, and I opened my eyes, I saw that everyone around me was laughing at me. “What’s wrong, guys? What’s everyone laughing about?” I inquired, perplexed.
“Eden… your head… I mean,” Mark said and then burst out laughing.
I touched my head and discovered that my wig had flown away while I was on the ride. Everyone had learned that I was bald, and that’s why they were laughing at me.
“Oh, I didn’t realize it,” I said, embarrassed, and ran over to the school bus. I wanted to go outside and look for my wig, but I was so embarrassed that I didn’t have the courage to confront everyone. However, as the picnic ended, my classmates started boarding the bus, and even then, they didn’t leave a chance to mock me.
“Oh god, she’s bald. Is she suffering from cancer?” I overheard one of the kids talking to his friend.
“No, no, I think she’s suffering from some disease,” the other kid said.
“But guys, don’t you think she looks funny without the wig?” someone grumbled, and the entire bus burst out laughing.
I somehow managed to control my tears until I reached home. But my mom quickly noticed that I was upset with something. “What’s wrong, honey? And where’s your wig?” she inquired, anxious.
I cried and hugged her. “Why am I different from other kids, mom? Why me, just why?”
“Oh, honey,” she consoled me. “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay!”
“When mom? When will that time come?” I was furious. “I’ve been wearing a wig since the age of 5, but my hair never grew back! What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t my hair growing?”
She sighed. “Well, Eden. I don’t know how to tell you this, but…” Then she began to explain. It turned out I was born a healthy and beautiful baby, but as I grew older, my hair started falling out.
When she took me to a doctor, I was diagnosed with alopecia, a rare medical condition that causes hair loss. The doctor had told her that I would go bald very soon.
“I was embarrassed about it, Eden, but I didn’t want you to suffer because I knew people would avoid you, and no one would like you if they found out you had a rare disease. As a result, I decided to make you wear a wig all the time.”
I was stunned. My mom was ashamed of my looks, so she made me wear a wig? I swear that was the most terrible day of my life when I heard my mom say that. But from that day on, I decided I would no longer hide behind the wig.
As time went on, I lost all my friends because of my disease. Some made fun of me because of my appearance, while others mistook alopecia for a contagious disease and avoided me. I’ll be honest with you. I felt very alone sometimes. I would spend several hours crying, thinking why I had to suffer so much.
But thankfully, that loneliness helped me discover my passion, and I decided to pursue a career in music. But I had to face mockery then as well because my music professor at the university looked down on me and said I would scare the audience because of my appearance.
Dejected, I abandoned my dreams and took a job in a restaurant to make ends meet. My mother didn’t support my dreams because she thought I was making ‘fun’ of myself by pursuing a career that would expose me to so many people. So I had to manage everything on my own.
One day, I was about to leave after my shift at the restaurant when I saw a shabbily dressed man enter.
“Eden, hurry up and come here!” my boss yelled at me.
“Go and serve that customer—that old man. None of the waitresses want to do it because of his appearance. So you’ll have to do it!”
“But my shift is over, Edward. And I have to go for my singing practice,” I said.
“Well, in that case, do you want to continue singing and get fired?” Edward threatened me.
I didn’t have a choice. I was forced to serve that man, but it turned out to be a blessing. Having served him without judgment, he offered me the opportunity to ask him for anything.
“You can ask for whatever you want. I’m glad you didn’t judge me based on my appearance. I overheard other employees discussing me. I’m a music producer, and as you know, creative people value their passion over their appearance!” he exclaimed, laughing.
I decided that this was my chance to fulfill my dream. I asked him if he could listen to one of my songs, and he agreed. What’s more, he loved my voice and asked me if I could join him for his next album. I was over the moon.
We started working on it a few months later, and within a year, I was all over the music charts. I couldn’t believe my dream had come true. I gave several concerts worldwide, and finally, I was invited to perform in my hometown one day.
After my performance, I was about to leave the stage when I heard a voice behind me. “May I have your autograph, please? Your song is one of my favorites!”
I was taken aback when I turned around. It was Mark, and he wasn’t alone; several of my friends who turned their backs on me were with him. “We want it as well!” they chimed.
Others insisted, “We love your music, too!
I gave a warm smile and signed autographs for them. “I can’t believe you became so famous, Eden! Remember how close we used to be in school?” Mark said as I handed him a signed notepad.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t recognize you,” I replied with a smile. “A lot of people have told me the same story to fool their friends into thinking they’re close friends with me. After all, everyone knows I was bullied at school for my disease. However, it was a pleasure to meet you, Mark!”
As I was leaving, I saw my mother too. Perhaps, she too struggled to believe that her daughter had become a successful singer. I wanted to approach her and ask if she was still embarrassed by my appearance, but I saw her walk away with tears in her eyes.
What can we learn from this story?
- Never make a snap judgment about someone based on their appearance. The way Eden’s friend judged her wasn’t right at all.
- God takes away something to give us something better. Eden suffered from bullying her entire life because of her appearance and was left alone, but that isolation helped her discover her true calling: singing.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.