Humiliation is A Part of Life

Olivia - Wilbraham, Massachusetts
Entered on January 13, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

Humiliation is something that everyone goes through at some point. Your hands get sweaty, your cheeks get red, your whole body seems to be on fire… believe me, I know exactly how it feels. You see, when I was in second grade, I was diagnosed with a rare case of Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Disease. If you have never heard of this disease before, you’re probably very lost and confused; similar to how I felt when the doctor told me the bizarre news.

In order to tell my story, it’s necessary to rewind back to when I was just a baby.

When I was born I was just as an average, healthy infant should be; two hands and feet, ten fingers and toes. But when my parents fed me my first bottle, they noticed that my left eye was moving oddly. When I sucked in, my eyelid would rise, and as I released it, it would go back to its usual position. My parents were a little confused, but they didn’t think it was of much concern. As I grew older, this strange habit continued, and also occurred when I chewed my food.

The reason I went to the doctors that day was not because my parents finally decided that my eye needed to be looked at. It wasn’t because I was afraid of what was happening, either. If it weren’t for … them… I wouldn’t have even thought about getting my eye examined. When I speak of “them” I am referring to my whole second grade class.

It was snack time. I was enjoying my food while talking a friend, when suddenly she stopped me in the middle of my sentence. “What’s wrong with your eye?” she exclaimed. I didn’t understand her question. She became impatient with my lack of an answer and started yelling, “Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with you?” Within seconds, the whole class was staring at me curiously. Many offered me their snacks just to see me chew. I was completely mortified. I went home and cried to my mom, begging to go to the doctor.

It turns out that there is no cure for my rare disease. The doctor said it would fade as I grew older but I’m 17 now and nothing has changed. However, I have learned from my many experiences with humiliation that it’s simply a part of life. Some things, like this disease, are beyond my control. I was born with a nerve that linked my eye to my jaw, and there was nothing I could do to change that. Instead of crying everyday, I decided I wasn’t going to let my classmates’ words bother me. I became comfortable enough with my disease that I could actually make fun of myself.

I believe that if we accept our flaws and obtain the ability to laugh at ourselves, it will give us the strength to have confidence in life. We can try to avoid humiliation, but it will find us at one point or another. I have learned that it’s better to accept our imperfections than to dwell on something that we can’t change.