What Sets Me Apart By Sarah Plotkin

I was born with a brown birthmark on my left ear lobe. When I was little I didn’t mind it and didn’t think much of it. But that changed one day in kindergarten. I remember one girl from my preschool told me I had brown paint on my ear and another one said I had dirt on it from the playground. I didn’t even know what to say to them because I was so embarrassed and to me I CLEARLY did not have paint or dirt on my ear. For the rest of the day I was uncomfortable and wanted to hide my ear from everyone. When I came home from school I was so sad and for weeks after I tried to cover my birthmark. Whether that meant wearing my hair down or putting my hand over it, I was going to do whatever it took for no one to comment about my ear again.

My parents knew that I didn’t like my birthmark and I asked them if there was anything we could do to fix it. They told me we could try to remove it but we would have to wait till I was a little older. So, in third grade I met with a few different doctors and decided on one that was going to perform my surgery. Although I was scared about the surgery and grossed out by the thought of the doctor taking skin from behind my ear to put over my birthmark, I wanted this procedure done.

I remember the whole experience of my surgery so clearly. I was so nervous in the morning and the worst part was when I had to say goodbye to my parents to go into surgery. As I was being wheeled away from them I wanted to cry but I knew if I wanted to not be made fun of for the rest of my life I needed to do this. I got to the room and there were tons of nurses and doctors running all over the place. As I was hugging my stuffed animal, Duckie, the nurse told me to count down from ten.

The next thing I knew I was back in the regular part of the hospital and my parents and nurses were asking me so many questions. “Do you want apple juice?” “Anything to eat?” “Are you tired?” “How are you feeling?” It took a minute for me to process everything but I was feeling pretty well. After resting for an hour or two I was ready to go home. The nurse asked if I needed a wheel chair because she said I might be a little dizzy but I thought she was crazy. When I got up I was slightly lightheaded and then understood what she meant. I left the hospital and was happy to go home.

After my surgery I had to wear a turban like contraption of gauze so my ear would heal properly. I was so curious about what it looked like so I peaked at my ear one day and was freaked out by all of the blood. I went to the doctor a few days after and he took it off and from then on I was able to go to school by wearing headbands to cover my ear. I was very excited about my surgery because I didn’t have to worry anymore of people commenting and making fun of my birthmark on my ear. My friends were also very supportive of me.

Eight years later, I am very happy I did have the surgery but am still self- conscious about my ear. I understand that I am very lucky to be able to fix my difference, unlike most people. I am able to get my ears pierced but I have decided that I do not want to, if at any time I change my mind I can get them pierced. Going through this experience makes me empathize with other people that have their own version of a physical difference. Now when people ask me what is on my ear, I am not afraid to tell them that it is a birthmark. I wear my hair up freely now and my ear is a much lighter color but the dark brown is still visible on the outside area. It is not much of a scar but it is visible that my ear lobe is not all the same color. I am not that same little girl that got embarrassed in preschool and today I flaunt what makes me different.

Sarah Plotkin cropI hope this inspires others to be proud of what makes them unique.


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