She walked into the room with her head shaved. She was breathtaking. Jane already stuck out in the high school she attended. Surrounded by middle-america farm land, Jewish was as exotic as it got. She was set apart in elementary school every year when her teacher asked her to explain to the class the menorah.
But now, now she was coming to school with her head shaved, and a horseshoe shaped scar across the back of her skull. Being a teenager is hard enough without the additional weight of brain surgery. Jane had been mousy and quiet before her two-week hiatus. Until it was her turn to go in my public speaking class, I didn’t always remember she was there.
There was no hiding now. She walked into the class with her shoulders back, no head scarves, no wigs. She was more radiant and powerful than Demi Moore in GI Jane. No veil of thick dark hair to hide behind.
Her classmates were complimenting her as only freshmen girls could. They were sighing and saying things like, “Oh my GOD Jane! I like, hate you so much. I could never be as pretty as you with my head shaved. You had brain surgery and you are STILL prettier than me.”
These ridiculous freshmen girl comments were also totally true. Jane had never looked more stunning.
The boys were trying to engage her in conversation about pain and guts. Mostly because they were fascinated by the scar, and totally in love with and intimidated by a girl who clearly had done something braver than they ever had.
I sat in the back of the room unable to take my eyes off this girl that I had barely noticed just two weeks before. I was trying to catalog all the differences.
Where she used to put her head down and stare at her hands, her long hair hiding her face, she now looked straight at her classmates nothing hiding her.
Where there was once a timid voice, a confident one now spoke out.
Where once there was a little girl, a confident and brignt young woman sat there articulating her thoughts.
I was twenty-one and a student teacher. I didn’t even have my own desk. And I remember staring at her, in complete awe. She had completely captured the room.
I still think of Jane when I am feeling insecure, when I lose the security blanket of blending in and realize that my scars are showing. I remember the lesson that 15 year old taught me when I was her teacher, and she was my student.
It is your scars that make you beautiful. It is the hair you think you need that is hiding you from the world.