I think that being "different" has created two parts of my personality that may not have been there without it. One of these two qualities is that I have no problem putting myself in someone else's shoes. I think about how it must feel from everyone else's perspective probably more than I do my own. Sometimes this is a wonderful quality to have. For instance, when at outdoor school, a students (who is autistic) couldn't cope with the unpredictable schedule. He almost had a pure meltdown, but because I could sympathize with his frustration and confusion, I was also able to talk him down.
I believe that this trait is one of the most helpful to me in my career, in that it helps kids to feel comfortable with me from the get-go. You may think that the opposite would happen, that having a teacher who looks so different may be a reason for students to take a step away. This is not the case at all! I believe that because my differences are out in the open and obvious to all, my students feel as though they can show me theirs without fear of being abnormal. It makes me relate-able to them.
This trait is not so great in the sense that I over-think what others say and do far more than I should. I know that there are many times that I try to find emotion or hidden messages when there are none. I plan gifts/cards usually for months in advance (time consuming, I know), and I feel guilty if I don't buy something when wandering through a garage sale or when someone comes to the door. I worry constantly about how people see me. Overall, I think that this is one of my best traits, I just wish I could turn it off from time-to-time.
The second trait that I have accumulated due to my hairlessness, is magnet that pulls strangers in. No matter where I go, or what I'm doing, there is always someone who wants to share their stories with me. Once again, this can be a blessing as well as a curse. When I stop by the grocery store on my way home, with a 2 year old on my hip and a gallon of freezing cold milk in my other hand, I don't really want to listen to a story about a complete stranger's health issues.
But there are also times where this comes in very handy. I never have to worry about being the person in the corner who has no one to talk to. When I started attending a Bunco group where I only knew a few people, it didn't take long to feel like one of the pack. When attending a district-wide staff meeting, everyone knows who I am, even if I don't know them. I think that people feel like they can relate to someone who they already know has "issues".
I know I have said this before, but I truly believe that having alopecia has made me who I am, and have supplied some of the best parts of my personality. Maybe someday I will take some time to write about the not so great qualities that I've inherited, but that is for another day!