You probably are looking at my cover photo and thinking, "What happened to him? He is covered in red spots?" Well, for those of you who are worried I am dying from some crazy disease or I had some freak accident, it's actually just a harmless auto-immune disease called psoriasis. It was something that I was born with that ignited thanks to a strep throat infection at age five. You can google it for advanced details, but it just causes my skin to be covered in red rough patches like in the picture. It has been the bane of my existence my entire life.
But everybody in my life who I meet always says, "Jake, you are SO CONFIDENT I wish I could be that confident in myself." Well sister girl, it took 13 years for me to get to this point in my life. I had never gone to the beach with a group of friends until I was 18 years old. I never went to a pool party growing up. I never did anything where I risked having my psoriasis exposed. I had been bullied for spots that appeared where I couldn't hide them for so many years, and it developed into an extreme anxiety that I still struggle with.
My greatest anxiety that I struggle with: I worry about what every other person in my life thinks of me. This is largely thanks to my psoriasis and the few people who while growing up wanted to make me feel ashamed of it. I currently am at a place in my life where I feel comfortable in my own skin, but I didn't for 13 years of my life. I did whatever I could to avoid being made fun of in any sort of way, including tearing others down while still in high school, even late middle school. But those who really knew me knew that was just a way to cover up my own anxiety.
Okay, so you've heard my sob story, but I know right now you are wondering what the point of all this backstory has been. We all have that one thing in our lives that eat us up on the inside. Some of us it is our weight, acne, hair, voice, you name it. But what all of these insecurities have in common, is they are all related to our outward appearance. In our current society, we seem to have it within us to judge others instantly based purely on what we see on the outside. I recently had somebody tell me that they didn't like me because my face constantly looks disgusted and I give off a bad vibe when they have met me a total of four times and have never had a legitimate conversation with me.
That killed me. I cried about it actually, and Jake NEVER CRIES in front of others. But it just helped me to realize, that individual judged me purely on what they had seen on the outside and not the person who I am underneath the surface. The same happens when people judge me instantly due to my psoriasis. I get the craziest stares when I take off my shirt at the beach now, but I don't care. I love myself and if they want to judge who I am from far away, then that's their prerogative.
We all have to overcome the anxieties we have about our appearances and remember that there is no such thing as a perfect human. We are all perfectly imperfect. My greatest insecurity is what taught me the greatest lesson of all; not to take what everyone else thinks of me to heart. My parents have taught me that lesson from the beginning of time, but I never actually understood it until I went through it myself.
What do I hope you take away from all of this? I hope you realize that what every person in your life thinks of you, isn't as important as you being happy with who you are. Also, if you are an individual who judges a person purely based on how they are on the outside before getting to know them underneath the surface, then I hope you learned something from my article and my own experiences.