I woke up a week or so ago and discovered that I had a new follower on my @MegZucker Twitter account. It was, “@StephanopoulosG.” My heart raced. “John! John.” I belted out as I ran down the stairs to let him in on my news. I found my husband sitting in our family room with Savanna. “You’ll never guess who is following me on Twitter?” Not being a Twitter account holder, my husband barely lifted an eyebrow. “Who?” “George Stephanopoulos, the co-host of Good Morning America and host of ABC’s This Week, THAT is who! Isn’t it great? I’m not sure how he learned of my blog, but it would be awesome if he is reading it!”
Always the skeptic, John looked at me with obvious doubt. “Are you sure it’s really him?” “Well, I see what appears to be George’s photo next to his Twitter account address, and the tweets are all about ABC news and things he is up to, so I presume it is!” John did not respond with the enthusiasm I had hoped for, so I left. As I climbed the staircase in our home, I could hear Savanna saying to John, “Daddy, do we know George Snuffleopogous?”
The next day, I was so elated about my new celebrity follower and the exposure and opportunities it might bring, I even mentioned it at Charlie’s soccer game to my friend Stacey. “Meg, that is so great!” I smiled with pride. I even considered calling my literary agent. Thankfully, I did not. Later that evening, I decided to see what good old George was tweeting, even hoping by now he had sent me a personal message. But then I started to examine his Twitter account more closely and for the first time noticed his bio. It read: This account is not affiliated with George Stephanopoulos. Location: San Francisco. My heart sank. In fact, if I had a tail, it would be hiding between my legs.
What a loser I am, I thought to myself. Not only did I have the big head to think the real George S might be interested in my site and blog, I had the audacity to share it with others. Now I had to tell John and Stacey. She of course would understand. My loving husband of twelve+ years, however, would enjoy rubbing it in. The real question was the following: If the real George S is not interested, why would the fake George be following me on Twitter? I pondered, even daydreamed. Maybe the fake had a special “in” with the real, and this could still turn out beneficial? Maybe even having the fake George S was a good thing, even if indirectly? Later, I reflected on how strange it is that we can get caught up valuing ourselves based simply on how others view us, even people we have never met.
As I have continued to write my blog, I have noted a pattern. Whether by private e-mail, or online post, several people who have been following have told me they think of me as “brave.” While I know it is intended to be a compliment, the comment always takes me aback, since that has never been a description I would attach to myself. After all, my being born with ectrodactyly is simply something I place within my own definition of ‘normal,’ (whatever that means). In fact, just like many, its all I have ever known.
But, then I started to speculate that perhaps I deserved the valiant description. I even began to convince myself that my willingness to put my stories and photos out there for all to read, even to gawk, was courageous. After all, in the opinion of others, look at all I have overcome, and I have the courage to flaunt it.
But am I brave? Nah, not really. Recently, my friend Dave sent me an article in the NY Daily News about a nine-year-old girl named Clara Beatty. Even before Clara was born, tests determined that Clara would be born with an unusually rare condition called “Treacher Collins” syndrome. This meant severe facial deformities—droopy eyes, under-developed cheekbones and a tiny jaw. Once born, Clara would require a tube in her neck to assist her breathing. Further, the lack of an outer ear with restricted ear canals would mean she would need hearing aids within 6 months.
Much of the article was on the fact that her parents opted to see the pregnancy through and have Clara, despite having information that might lead many would-be parents to terminate the pregnancy, at least according to the report. I, however, focused on the fact that although Clara was still too young for cosmetic surgery, her parents have discovered that, “Clara was quite able to cope, sometimes better than they.” While inevitably Clara finds all the questions about her appearance, “annoying,” her classmates at school describe her as “awesome.” It seems that even with her significant facial deformities, Clara has led the charge, teaching the world and even her parents, a thing or two. “We’re all learning that we’re just going to do what we’re going to do, and we’re not going to pay attention to what other people think.” Janet Beatty said to the reporter.
Every time someone new looks at Clara’s face she is judged, even pitied. But yet, she still endures, even inspires. Now that, to me, is brave. Reading about Clara reminded me once again how easily we can get consumed with ourselves, and how important it is to put our own lives into perspective. Even Clara can read about another little five-year-old girl named Brooke Hester, afflicted with cancer, who started a floral headband business called, “Brooke’s Blossoms,” to help other little girls with hair loss feel pretty, despite their life experience. Fortunately, there is no shortage of truly brave and admirable people out there.
A week later I went to see what the good ol’ fake George S. had recently tweeted. To my disappointment (and amusement), he had dropped me as a follower.
A few days later was Mother’s Day. My son Ethan’s card read,“To an awesome Mom, who is not afraid to admit it!” Perhaps this is all a sign I need to keep my ego in check, or at least keep it in perspective.