It's funny sometimes what does and does not affect our self-confidence. When I was 17, for as long as I could remember (until the end of this story, as you'll see), I had had a medium-sized mole just above my right eye. It was same color as my skin, so it didn't stand out too much, but it was still quite visible. Especially if you knew it was there, which I did, since it was my face.
Still, it didn't bother me. Not at all. I never worried about it, not even during those sensitive teen years. The mole was larger than a large pimple and it was on my face all the time, and yet I couldn't bring myself to care about it.
The Mole and I, at high school graduation. Can you see it? I had some smiley pictures, too, but you can see it better in this angry one.
Until an adult intervened. Just after I graduated from high school in 1999, I went to the doctor to see him about something completely unrelated to the mole on my face. During the course of our conversation, he said - rather suddenly, as if he'd been contemplating it the whole time (or my whole life) but had only now found a chance to say something about it - "So, how much does that mole by your eye bother you? It must be hard to have something like that being a source of self-consciousness and low self-esteem all the time, right on your face."
Let me just say that within a week, my mom had scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist to have the mole removed, by my request. I was a bit scandalized - my whole life, I thought The Mole had been kind of inconspicuous at best, a little quirky at absolute worst, but a detriment to my sense of self? Never! But after what the doctor had said to me, it had to go. All of a sudden I felt hideous as long as that mole was still on my face.
My mom took me to the dermatologist for the outpatient procedure. They numbed the area around my eye and cut out the mole. It didn't hurt so much as it was...uncomfortable. I couldn't feel pain, but I could tell what they were doing and it grossed me out.
It was even grosser after the anesthetic wore off and I was left with a nasty bloody crater right by my eye. I spent the first afternoon after the procedure practically comatose on the couch watching documentaries on PBS, mostly (and strangely) about the Donner Party.
A few weeks after the removal, with my brother Blair.
Did I mention this was the summer before my freshman year of college? In a few short weeks, I would meet the set of people who could help me get through the next few years and instead of a vaguely noticeable flesh-colored mole above my eye, I had a gaping wound. It wasn't exactly doing wonders for my self-esteem.
In the end, the area healed up nicely before I left for college. I have a small white scar where the mole was and sometimes I feel like the mole is still there until I reach up to feel it and discover it is gone. It's been ten years now, and I'm glad I had it removed. Apparently, I was the only one who didn't think it made me grotesque and hideous, and I was the last one to figure that out. Thank goodness for my caring doctor who was so sensitive to my tenuous hold on a positive self-image at the delicate age of 17!