Growing Up With Alopecia
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease with wide range of hair loss, Alaina has no hair at all on her body. Her journey began before she could remember at age 2, she went into remission, but began loosing her hair again at age 11.
This was extremely challenging as you can imagine, navigating puberty and middle school all while you are loosing/have lost your hair. During this time we are are trying so desperately to fit in. It is such a fragile time where kids are doing all they can to displace any negative attention from themselves onto anyone else. Being overweight and loosing her hair, Alaina was an easy target.
Wearing wigs and drawing on her eyebrows was her way of trying to fit in, she wasn't telling her peers what was going on, but they noticed how her hair would change length pretty drastically. Soon the lies she had to tell to keep her truth secret became too much, she was sick of it. Luckily she had photography in her life and used that as the tool to "come out" and tell others about her condition through a photo project.
This process was truly more for her than for her classmates. She needed to hear that her hair didn't define her beauty and it is not who you are. She didn't believe it at first, she had to fake it till she made it, but finally around the age of 20 she began to be okay with it, and almost a decade later she decided to stop wearing wigs entirely.
The beauty of living her truth (and it being something very obvious to those who see her) is she has had the ability to empower others to live their truth as well, and be a source of advice.
The Not-so-seen Reality
We live in an age of social media where feeds and lives are curated. But we all have struggles. It can be a unifying thing to remember that we all have struggles we don't really want to show, we are all working through things.
We are here to learn various lessons and to grow and develop, this can not happen without struggles. It requires inner work and stripping away layers that have been ingrained in us from birth. Wether society, family, or friends, we need to ask ourselves if we are living our truth. This process can be a painful but necessary one that continues throughout life.
Do not try to fit into the mold you have been told to live in. Ask if this is who you are supposed to be. Everyday is not going to be perfect, we don't have to always love every aspect of ourselves, but we can appreciate what we have. Life will ebb and flow.
Practices to Help Create a Positive Mindset
Connect with someone you love
Dance to some music
Setting Boundaries in Friendships
Find people who you can be open and honest with about your struggles and work as a team to grow and develop as human beings. It can be hard to open up to people, especially when friends come and go. It can be tough to open up to new people when you connect with someone on a deep level and then they leave, for whatever reason. But know that person was in your life at that time for a perfect reason. You taught them something, or they taught you something.
Three months, six months, five years, look at what lessons you needed to learn, or did learn.
Surround yourself with people who want you to shine. There will be people who come into your life who do not know how to celebrate your successes without feeling like a failure. They need/want to feel better than you and when you begin to shine they aren't there for you.
Energy Vampires. There will be people who piggyback off of your energy and accomplishments. You leave after talking or spending time with them and feel drained. Keep an eye out, and be aware of how they make you feel, it may be time to say goodbye.
Two different paces and paths. As you grow and develop there will be friendships that fall apart. This can be the result of two people growing apart and developing at a different pace. It is not your place to tell someone where they need to be on their journey, or how fast they need to grow. It is your time and pace, do what you need for you.