Blown out candles

Updated: Apr 18

Birthdays were always something I enjoyed. The party, the people gathering and especially eating the cake and “salgadinhos,” the most delicious Brazilian food fingers that were ever created, always brought a smile to my face. It signified the beginning of a new chapter as I began another trip around the sun. When I was a kid, my family would always throw birthday parties, either at home or at a kid’s place, to celebrate the occasion. At the end of the party, we would always gather around a table to sing happy birthday. Mind you I’m from Brazil, so the famous “happy birthday” song is way more energetic and features a lot more clapping and cheering. The vibe is vibrant and energetic, spreading it across the room. As the last words of the song were sung, I would lean toward the cake to blow out the candles and make a wish. Most people would make that wish on the spot, without involving a lot of thinking. For me, I actually used to put a lot of thought into that moment, and wish with all my energies one of my biggest desires: to look “normal.”

Back then, I was young and I didn’t know much about myself or my surroundings. The wish, however, revealed something about myself that was reflected deep within my heart and soul. It was a mindset instilled in me from a very young age, and since then, became part of my reality. Rooted in fear and insecurity, that reality took over my life in such a way that it began affecting my actions and beliefs about myself. I was insecure and didn’t truly love myself. I felt trapped in a body that defined me and caused me so much pain over the years. One that wasn’t perceived as “normal” but rather “different.” The issue was that I thought of “different” as something negative.

In life, there are several things out of our control, and no matter how much we want things to turn out differently, there’s nothing we can do about them. Born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, I considered my appearance the defining factor in my life, one that affected the way I perceived myself as well as my worthiness around others. I didn’t value myself, and I would often devalue my worth based on what society established as the “beauty standard.” That beauty standard was and continues to be, the parameters that people judge others on what’s considered “normal” and “abnormal” under their own eyes. I would be naive if I didn’t acknowledge that there are subconscious standards that people based their opinions on, from the way you look to how tall or short you are. In my opinion, that’s one of the most toxic and dreadful aspects of our society nowadays. Who was ever given the power to dictate what the standard of beauty is? We live in a world with more than 7 billion people, and we still make the mistake to categorize people under boxes and put others down based on their own misconceptions

Being targeted as “different” meant going to the supermarket and being stared at or feeling uncomfortable when someone made fun of my appearance. Looks, jokes and mean words were constantly thrown at me, which consequently became part of my norm. Nobody ever understood what I was going through nor could they ever help me because I was too scared of speaking out. The last thing I ever wanted was for people to feel sorry for me. The only thing I ever wanted was to feel like I belonged. My misconception, however, lies in my belief that everything would be solved from the outer world. Little did I know that the solutions to all my problems lay deep within my soul.

To the surprise of many, I was never an extroverted person. In fact, I used to hide away from the world and everyone around me due to the fear of being judged and rejected. Over the years, that fear only expanded, forcing me to suffocate my feelings and distance myself from living my most authentic life. I used to let what others thought of me sink in my mind and prevent me from letting my own personality bloom. I ended up being a prisoner inside my own mind.

I wasn’t always an outspoken and confident person. The reality was that I used to hate public speaking. My entire body would shake, my voice would start breaking, my heart would race at a lightning speed and I couldn’t make sense of the words coming out of my mouth. I was a shy girl who couldn’t speak her mind and didn’t truly believe in herself. Trapped in her own mind full of fear and insecurities, I was limiting my potential and preventing myself from living my most authentic life based on the painful events I’ve experienced in the past. All the degrading and negative thoughts took over my mind, and I was too weak to stop them from controlling my actions and, most importantly, my life.

The feeling of not belonging haunted me for many years. At the time, I couldn’t say anything, and worse, I didn’t know what to say nor to whom I should say it. It was the reality I created inside my own mind, and one I couldn’t seem to let go of. How could I ever escape the toxic environment that I created in my own head? That same mindset made me believe I was not enough, I was different and that I did not belong in the world I lived in. Over the years, this mindset only grew to take over my whole life. I was living by it, and my actions, words and attitude reflected that same mindset.

I didn’t truly love myself back then, and that was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.

My story is not about guilt or anger, but about my journey toward building a more loving and compassionate life. I don’t hold grudges toward anyone, because that would make me stuck in the past rather than building my future. I’ve come to the realization that no one has the power to hurt us. The issue is that we end up hurting ourselves by letting the external elements around us impact the way we live our own lives. The turning point of my healing process was to take ownership of what caused my hurt and begin my journey toward self-unfoldment. While my mindset has grown significantly in the past year, I’m still in the beginning stages of healing.

Healing is an ongoing process. It doesn’t have a start and it does not have an end. It is an ongoing process toward filling the holes within our lives with self-love and acceptance. There’s not a deadline attached to it, and it shouldn’t be rushed. I’m still in the process, and I will continue to be for a long time. The best thing I ever did was to acknowledge their existence and look back in ways that I could grow from it, rather than let them control my destiny. It was a hard choice to relieve some of the hardest times of my life, however, being in control of the direction of my future rather than a mere viewer was the best decision I could have made.

The reason I share my story is not to ask for pity nor make people feel sorry about what I’ve experienced, but rather to show the world how it’s okay to be vulnerable and share your stories with others. We never know what others go through unless we listen to their stories. We can learn so much from others and, consequently, impact the community around us to become more accepting and loving. That’s the main purpose behind IMVISIBLE and what I hope to build in the next few years.

In writing, I want to cultivate a place where people are empowered to promote change within their own communities and cultivate a more compassionate, welcoming and accepting world for those who are still hiding behind shadows of the fear of being judged. I want to share the rarest and most amazing stories that are out there, waiting to be told, in hopes that it encourages others to be more curious about other people’s journeys. IMVISIBLE is a place where stories are given their own spotlight and space to impact even more lives. Power lies within, and stories are the catalyst toward building a more compassionate and loving world.

This is my story, but there’s so much out there. I’m honored and excited to begin this life-changing journey along with all of you.

This is just the beginning.

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