I’m Meg Zucker. By day I’m a seasoned attorney specializing in anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism, but in my parallel universe I’ve begun a campaign to help people embrace their differences. To that end I’m writing a book, posting this blog, publishing articles and speaking in public forums to teach what I’ve learned. My vantage is unique and, I’m frequently told, pretty remarkable. You see, I was born with ectrodactyly, a condition that left me with shortened forearms and one finger on each hand, and one toe on each foot. I am married and the first two of our three children also have my condition. The fact is, I feel my life’s work would be incomplete if I didn’t make my best effort to share what I’ve learned by not only looking so different from the “norm,” but also by having given birth to my difference.
A few years ago I watched an episode of Good Morning America (GMA). The GMA host Robin Roberts was attempting a different profession, suitable to her interests and personality traits. Robin wanted to try to become a lyricist. Inspired by singer and songwriter Inda Arie, she first reflected on her favorite of Arie’s songs called, “I am Not My Hair.” During the show, Robin described how, after her own breast cancer treatment, she had lost her hair and how difficult the loss of her hair was for her on top of dealing with her bout of cancer. The chorus read, “I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am not your expectations. I am not my hair I am not this skin. I am a soul that lives within.”
In my opinion, the power of these lyrics need not be contained to the specific message: I am not my hair. I am not my weight. I am not my wheelchair. I am not my scars. I am not my color. I am not my height. I am not my gender. I am not my sexual orientation. I am not my accent. I am not my wrinkles. I am not my leg severed by circumstances of war. So many of us, from either birth, a very early age or at an unexpected moment during life, define our own self-worth based on our physical being or how we believe we are being perceived by the rest. Unfortunately, if we are not prepared to fully embrace ourselves, we are led by the judgment of others and conclude that any difference must equate to a limitation, even a devaluation. I have been saying all along that I “wear my limitation on my sleeve.” Perhaps the only thing I have been wearing is the perceived notion of others about who and what I am, and what I am capable of in my life.
I like to think my overall message is not earth shattering, but rather simple and pure. We have a lot to learn from one another. If we find ourselves making assumptions and judgments about others, is it because we are having a harder time looking in the mirror, the one that reveals our true selves? While we prefer to dwell in our comfort zones spending time with people of like mind and physical being and judging those that are not, it is only when we reach beyond the borders of our familiar space that we discover our own ability to see the truth that has always been in front of us. If we are fortunate, that truth reveals a clear understanding, allowing for no false perceptions of others, and ultimately a total acceptance of self.