I have Vitiligo, but Vitiligo does not have me. What does that mean? I do not let the fact that I have Vitiligo interfere with my personal or professional goals, nor do I let it interfere with my ambitions. Vitiligo does not rule my life; I refuse to allow it.
Early on in my life, I used to worry about what people would think when they saw the discoloration of my skin. This was only fueled by the constant questions from strangers, such as, “What is that? Does it hurt? Is it contagious?” I began to grow self-conscious and even tried to cover up my Vitiligo. I became deeply depressed. I felt like an outcast, a stranger in my own body. It seems that the more I tried to hide it, the more questions I received, the more I became self-conscious.
I had what I can only call an epiphany. I have come to embrace my Vitiligo. It is a part of who I am, but it does not define who I am. My lovely wife summed it up best when she said, “It is part of what I love about you; you are my kaleidoscope of color!” The support that I have received from my friends and family has given me the strength to accept that I have Vitiligo, and not to let it limit my hopes or dreams.
Since then, I could not be happier or more pleasantly surprised with my life. I attended graduate school and received an MBA. I am a senior financial analyst working with well-known international corporations. I am an adjunct instructor and was elected to the Alumni Board of Directors at my alma mater. In addition, I have become the “face” of my alma mater and have been featured in a marketing campaign having appeared on various fliers, posters, newspaper ads, e-mails, and even multiple billboards posted around the city of Milwaukee! Imagine, ME, a person with Vitiligo on BILLBOARDS! Sometimes when I drive past one of my billboards, I think back to when I wanted to buy a pair of gloves to hide the Vitiligo my hands. . .
I am also an active member of the National Vitiligo Foundation and am doing everything in my power to be an inspiration and an activist for the Foundation and an educator for the masses. The more we educate others about Vitiligo, the more others will understand our plight.
I have grown to embrace my Vitiligo; it is a part of who I am and what makes me unique!
Accept and be accepted; live, love, and educate.