School – the word itself brings me nerves and anxiety as a teenager. As a girl with vitiligo, those nerves are only magnified. It’s scary to think about walking through the halls of my high school, wondering who is going to stop and ask me about my spots.
There’s no doubt high school as a girl with vitiligo is hard – but it doesn’t have to be. School is tough enough with classes and exams, so instead of worrying about my spots, I’ve learned to tackle my high school hallways with these five tips.
Mentally Prepare Yourself for Questions
You know that people are going to ask questions about your spots – they’re curious. So instead of getting embarrassed and blind-sided by their questions, mentally prepare yourself to answer them so you can keep your cool. There was a time when people would ask about my skin and I wouldn’t even be able to put words together to explain vitiligo. So I started to mentally prepare myself and figure out how to answer the question. Eventually, I stopped getting flustered and I could actually hold a conversation about my spots.
Be Approachable and Friendly
Being open and approachable as a girl with vitiligo shows that you’re confident and that there’s nothing to be scared of regarding your skin. It turns your spots into a non-issue – if it doesn’t bother you to talk about it, then it must not be that big of a deal. Also, the friendlier you are, the more people will know you and like you – and might even stand up for you when you can’t stand up for yourself. In high school especially, when you spend hours together every day, people tend to talk about each other and not always in a nice way. Having people around who can stick up for you through the immature days of high school drama is vital to survival.
Surround Yourself with Close Friends
Your close friends are your support network. Your friends already know about your spots, and may even know the truth about how hard it is to live with vitiligo. My friends don’t even notice my spots or think twice about them – because they already know my story and like me for who I am. These are the people that I can wear shorts around, that I can cry with and that always have my back. I can be myself around them. And sometimes, they even make me forget that I have spots.
Be the Girl with Vitiligo Who Knows Everyone
I’m more of an introvert, so this one is hard for me. But meeting as many people as you can as a girl with vitiligo is so important. Do the math – the more people you know, the less people who will ask you about your skin every day. Isn’t that great? Even better, the more people who know about your skin, the more people that can explain your skin to the people who still don’t know. Meeting new people also builds my confidence – I love going to class and knowing the people sitting around me.
Sarah Olmstead is a student who is just as comfortable in the big city as she is in the stands of the local high school football game. The Georgia girl loves to spend time with her family and corgi.