There’s this book called Wonder, and it’s by Raquel Jaramillo, otherwise known by her penname, R. J. Palacio. She wrote this book about August “Auggie” Pullman, a ten-year-old with a birth defect (it’s hinted that said defect is Treacher Collins syndrome and a cleft palate). Some kids, like Summer Dawson, the girl that sits with him at lunch when no one else would, enjoy being around Auggie. Some, like Jack Will, are pressured into not befriending him (though he ultimately does, spoiler alert!) by other kids that think he’s a freak, AKA Julian Albans. August is able to push through his first year of public school (or I guess private…point is that he’s no longer homeschooled) at Beecher Prep. But this is sixth grade, and not all of us can say that ignoring our defects is that simple.
Because we all have at least one defect.
Maybe it’s not visible like August’s defect, but nevertheless, it’s still there. Some may call it a quirk, a strange habit, maybe a characteristic or trait, something like that. But guess what? It’s all the same, be it physically visible or mentally present. It doesn’t have to be something classified as an illness. It doesn’t have to sound legitimate. It doesn’t have force others to pity you. It’s only something that makes you uncomfortable, and maybe it’s something that makes someone else uncomfortable, too. That’s where the teasing and taunting comes in (entirely unwelcome, might I add. Please leave, O Lingering Antagonizer).
(Perhaps that’s my defect: talking to myself as if I’m narrating some Shakespearean-era play.)
But, of course, it’s how you handle the way people treat your defects. I’ve spent too many good years of my young life lecturing kids younger than me about how showing your irritation only makes the bully keep doing what they’re doing (but let’s not use “bully”, I dislike that word. Let’s instead use “Antagonizer”, because that sounded pretty darn cool earlier). Evidently, these children never listened to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be so annoyed with society’s lack of understanding this ever-present phenomenon today.
GIVING IN HELPS NOTHING. CAPISCE?
You let the antagonizer know that you’re angry or hurt, and it’ll only fuel their hunger for your discomfort. Or perhaps it’s a hunger for their comfort, but nevertheless my point still stands. Let it get to you, whatever. But don’t show it.
But you can’t hold in your defect. You can’t try to appease the Antagonizer. Never try to appease the Antagonizer. In Wonder, Auggie wears his “Bleeding Scream” mask instead of his Boba Fett costume, both of which were ultimately meant to cover his facial defect. But this only hurts him more because (spoiler alert) he hears Jack Will talking about him behind his back with Julian. Covering up your defects might solve your problem temporarily, but a defect is kind of like some kind of mold or fungus in that IT DOESN’T GO AWAY. And you can’t buy Lysol or Moldex for your face, or your personality, for that matter. (Unfortunately, the 21st century isn’t that avant-garde, though maybe that’s for the better.)
Don’t change your defects. Don’t cover them up. Don’t let the Almighty Lingering Antagonizer linger in its almighty enormity any longer. Shed your “Bleeding Scream” mask and get to being Freaking-Awesome Defective You.
And, in the spirit of Christmas (and really the spirit of everyday) go rip someone else’s Boba Fett costume off. They’ll surely appreciate it.