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Flawless imperfectionfinal

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flawless imperfection
               mary courtney madigan
MCM

Copyright © 2013 by Mary Courtney Madigan

All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be used or reproduced
in any form or by any means without written permission of the author,
except where permitted by law.
Flawless imperfectionfinal
Flawless imperfectionfinal
Welcome! You have come across yet another familiar face. Long wavy brown hair, fair skin and
brown eyes are common characteristics found in many women today. But take a closer look,
for there is more to a common face that is often concealed. A stigma that is masked by a smile
for fear of predisposed attitudes or prejudices that may arise merely by knowing my personal
background. Intrigued?

My name is Carla Leal. I am a senior in college with common goals and aspirations. However, like
many, I too have a concealable stigma that is not visible at first glance. From my hair color, skin,
and eyes you can probably guess that I am from a Hispanic origin. If so, you are correct, but what
you would not gather from my complexion is my family origin. I am adopted and while this fact is
completely normal to me it often brings anxiety to others.

Up until the last few years, I would encounter negative remarks about the foster system or
adoption. The common misconception of foster children is, more often than not, that those
children are troubled, mischievous, liars and overall, untamed. I could make the same argument
for most teenagers, but I digress. That said, instead of speaking openly about my family
background, I began to conceal it from my group of friends.

At six months of age, I entered the foster system. I was picked up at the hospital by an elderly
couple who had reached retirement, but was not satisfied with a daily routine of television and
gardening. They opened their home to children like me and provided us with a stable home
and unconditional love. Fortunately for me, that same family decided to adopt me, taking me in
as one of their own. I grew up in the same home I was brought to eight years prior. For me, my
adoption gave me an opportunity to live a normal life surrounded by comfort and support. My
new home became a safe haven that often goes unappreciated. My story is scarcely depicted by
the media or of those acquaintances I’ve come to meet. I am glad to see a change in society and
a greater acceptance in a “modern family.”

Now while many would dwell on my actual adoption, I prefer to focus on how my adoption gave
me the opportunity to live a normal life and to be loved unconditionally by my parents. My new
family gave me more than I could have ever imagined and I would not be the woman I am today
without them or my experiences.




                         Carla Leal
Flawless imperfectionfinal

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Flawless imperfectionfinal

  • 1. flawless imperfection mary courtney madigan
  • 2. MCM Copyright © 2013 by Mary Courtney Madigan All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.
  • 5. Welcome! You have come across yet another familiar face. Long wavy brown hair, fair skin and brown eyes are common characteristics found in many women today. But take a closer look, for there is more to a common face that is often concealed. A stigma that is masked by a smile for fear of predisposed attitudes or prejudices that may arise merely by knowing my personal background. Intrigued? My name is Carla Leal. I am a senior in college with common goals and aspirations. However, like many, I too have a concealable stigma that is not visible at first glance. From my hair color, skin, and eyes you can probably guess that I am from a Hispanic origin. If so, you are correct, but what you would not gather from my complexion is my family origin. I am adopted and while this fact is completely normal to me it often brings anxiety to others. Up until the last few years, I would encounter negative remarks about the foster system or adoption. The common misconception of foster children is, more often than not, that those children are troubled, mischievous, liars and overall, untamed. I could make the same argument for most teenagers, but I digress. That said, instead of speaking openly about my family background, I began to conceal it from my group of friends. At six months of age, I entered the foster system. I was picked up at the hospital by an elderly couple who had reached retirement, but was not satisfied with a daily routine of television and gardening. They opened their home to children like me and provided us with a stable home and unconditional love. Fortunately for me, that same family decided to adopt me, taking me in as one of their own. I grew up in the same home I was brought to eight years prior. For me, my adoption gave me an opportunity to live a normal life surrounded by comfort and support. My new home became a safe haven that often goes unappreciated. My story is scarcely depicted by the media or of those acquaintances I’ve come to meet. I am glad to see a change in society and a greater acceptance in a “modern family.” Now while many would dwell on my actual adoption, I prefer to focus on how my adoption gave me the opportunity to live a normal life and to be loved unconditionally by my parents. My new family gave me more than I could have ever imagined and I would not be the woman I am today without them or my experiences. Carla Leal
  • 7. One of my most commented on features is the color of my skin. Not necessarily in a racial context (although that also happens) but just how dark my skin tone is. Coming from Ghana, one of many cultures where the standard of beauty heavily factors the lightness of one’s skin, it was the first, and eventually biggest, reason I felt very unattractive. Lighter skinned people are perceived to be less ‘local,’ or close to lower status villagers, and hence are generally attributed with more education, less ignorance, and a general higher class. To this day, people generally take the tone of one’s skin as a sign of potential class or wealth. Being especially darker than almost anyone I know, I pretty much have had to deal with a whole range of attitudes towards my skin tone alone. Different reactions range from jocular comments about how especially dark I am all the way to suggestions of using skin-lightening products. While I generally ignore most comments and deem them irrelevant, I actually have friends that have seriously suggested I try to lighten my skin in order to fit in better. After graduating high school, however, and exploring other cultures, I have come to appreciate my skin tone as something that sets me apart from the large majority of people. Being especially dark has several advantages, from the fact that I am generally hard to see in the dark to the untrained eye and I can use this to go unnoticed if I choose not to be. I can also wear any color of clothing and not have to care about it blending with my skin. More seriously though, my especially dark skin tone helps me stand out from the vast majority of people. I can be easy to pick out in a crowd and this helps me make my presence especially memorable. I think it has actually become my best feature and I cannot imagine changing it for anything. Since realizing how advantageous it is, I have become a lot more comfortable in my own skin. Kobe Ampofo
  • 9. I’ve been told my whole life that I’m not good enough. I’ve gotten reminders from everywhere that no matter what I do there will always be something that keeps me from getting where I want to go. I want nothing more in the entire world than to perform on stage and performers, more than any other profession, are constantly told they are not good enough. I think people who go into performance careers, myself included, are masochists who are addicted to pain. Through high school I was told, by a teacher, that because of how I looked, no matter how well I sang, I would never make it. I saw people who I knew were not as talented as me but were considered prettier get chosen over me for nearly everything. I’ve always been viewed as an out-going and confident person, but I’ve always had the nag in my head tell me that because I don’t look like the other girls that I’m not good enough for anybody. I was told by the people who cared about me to stop because they saw what it did to my self-esteem and that whatever it was that I was chasing after wasn’t worth all the pain I was going through, but that wasn’t how I saw it. For me there is almost nothing that compares to performing on a stage with a spotlight on me. Not long ago I was asked to think about the five experiences in life that made me feel happiest and felt most alive and the majority of mine involved performing. It’s not just something that I do, but something I feel and that feeling is something that I would not just give up on. I worked through high school knowing one day I would get that feeling and be in a place that appreciates what I bring as a performer as opposed to what I do not When it comes to the things I am passionate about I don’t know when enough is enough. My friends and family have seen me put myself through hell and back because I need to do this. For me, being on stage is a romantic experience. The feeling you get when you fall in love and your heart races and you can’t wait to see and hold that person is the same way I feel about being on a stage with an orchestra in the background and being able to connect with the audience on such a deeper level than just talking, but a full visual and auditory experience. That is what I want and that is worth all the heartache and doors in my face in the world to have that feeling. Some may not be able to take all of the pain it causes and others my look down on me for putting it on myself. It is more than just my philosophy on performance, but my way of life. When I am passionate about something or someone, no matter the odds or how much it hurts, I’m willing to put in the work and effort to get to the beauty of success; I won’t give up. Toni Marsteller
  • 10. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. mother theresa
  • 12. I’m a genderqueer transguy who is finally empowered by my struggle. I was gender-assigned female at birth, but I’ve always felt like one of the boys. Through adolescence, I struggled to find a balance of expression, since “too feminine” and “too masculine” never adequately described me. After many years of masculinizing my appearance and demeanor, I think I’ve hit my perfect balance. It took twenty-one years to get everything on the same page, but all the hard work paid off. I have amazing family and friends who respect the person I’ve become. It’s empowering to finally reflect what’s inside on the outside... some days I’m more male, more female, both, neither, or everything in between. Jay Barilla
  • 14. When I was 13, I had a nose surgery and since then I have no sense of smell. It makes me miss out on certain things in my life. I cannot notice the delicious smell of home cooked meals, aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee, that certain cologne that my boyfriend uses daily or the toxic smell of a burning teapot. I cannot smell anything; in turn, I cannot taste anything either. I have no shame of admitting this aspect of my life; however, whenever I casually mention my disability, people start to look at me differently. I have noticed that people around me try very hard to omit any kind of comments about scent. And whenever they unintentionally say something smells good, their faces turn red instantly. I don’t resent anything. I am actually glad that this happened to me. I have learned two things through this. One, I learned that my memories are more precious than I’ve ever thought. Whenever I am in a situation where there is something that smells good, I recall the old memories and I am able to smell it. Two, I have discovered that my other senses have increased. Especially, my sight is better than others. I can match color, I have a photographic memory, and I kern [adjust the spacing between letters] perfectly. I would never change the fact that I lost my sense of smell because it has given me more chance and ability to become a better designer with my augmented visionary sense. HyeSoo Kim
  • 16. When people meet me, one thing is immediately apparent. I am a nerd, and all through my life people have treated me differently because of it. It has always been hard for me to make friends. This has always made life a little tougher, especially when I was young. Being 10 years old and always being the person trying to get the ball in keep-away while the other kids tripped me when I’d get close is hard to take day after day. Up through high school I got made fun of and didn’t really have friends. On multiple occasions I’d think I was finally making a new friend only to realize that they just wanted help on an assignment. I was beginning to lose hope that it would get better. I had always known that it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t like the same things as the “cool kids,” but not fitting in began to impact me pretty badly. The worst part was there didn’t seem to be a solution other than ceasing to be myself; I really didn’t want to go that route. I had always recognized that one benefit of not fitting in very well was that I was very accustomed to being by myself. I don’t have a problem “geeking it up” in my room alone, playing video games or reading science fiction. Regardless, it still hurt to see others hanging out on the weekends and not caring to invite me. When I got to college that I decided it was time to stop caring and just to live. I could stand being mostly by myself if I had to and I knew I’d have plenty of work in which to bury myself. Luckily, I didn’t really have to, because here there have been many people that don’t care if I’m a nerd, and there are also many fellow nerds. From my dorm and classes and even from completely random activities I’ve been able to make a few great friends, most of them just as nerdy as me. I have people to play video games and watch science fiction movies with, and I like to think that they’ve made me even nerdier than I was before, which I really appreciate. I still don’t have the easiest time making good friends, but now I can stop and talk to people outside my small friend group all the time, and I don’t have a problem introducing myself and striking up a conversation with new people. In summary, yes, I enjoy sitting alone in my room or with others playing World of Warcraft or Call of Duty, or watching Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc., or playing Settlers of Catan or Risk (Lord of the Rings edition). And yes, I pulled my first all-nighter in college because I was having too much fun doing my calculus homework. But these things don’t mean that I’m entirely socially inept, or a total klutz, or a complete pushover. I have a few great friends now, I’m doing great in school, and I still have fun when I’m hanging out alone. While it may have taken a while for me to realize it, I’m very glad that I’m a nerd. Sam Wright
  • 19. Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. eleanor roosevelt
  • 21. My name is Francesca Gifford and I have 90% sensory-neural hearing loss. I was born with approximately 30% of my hearing gone. After over a decade of ear infections and surgeries to attempt to fix the problem I’m left with 10%. That 10% has given me many hardships, but it has also given me incomparable experiences. I struggle to hear in class, I struggle to hear my friends, I am never up on the gossip, and whispers don’t work when you can’t hear loud voices. I had to watch the light instead of listening for the sound of the beep to begin my races as a swimmer, which inevitably cost me 2 tenths of a second. This was the difference between first and second place on multiple occasions. So I lost a few races but I adapted, I can read lips and my hearing aid is always on. In the pool I trained harder so those two tenths of a second wouldn’t matter. I can tell what people across the room are talking about, so I got the gossip back! In crowded places when it’s almost impossible for anyone to hear, I can have a full conversation with no problem. I can take out my hearing aids and be in a world all of my own, no matter where I am. The adaptations I have made because of my hearing pushed me to my limits and taught me to be hardworking and never give up. Theses two characteristics are things I would never give up for anything in the world, and I may not have gotten them if I hadn’t been deaf. But most importantly the fact that I am deaf is a part of who I am. My friends and family love me even if sometimes they need to be on repeat for me. I couldn’t imagine life without my hearing aids or my deafness. Francesca Gifford
  • 23. Growing up as a minority in small town Indiana, I’ve certainly felt the sentiment, “one of these things is not like the others…” Cultural differences spanned from taste in foods to religion and faith. I always had the most difficult name on the attendance sheet in classes, and was stereotypically good at math. Every Halloween people would suggest I be Aladdin, not Peyton Manning, and never a cowboy but rather an “Indian”. Though always typecast and seen as different, I would never change a thing in regard to it. Aladdin is my favorite movie, and my natural gifts with numbers make my Finance and Mathematics majors second nature. I win any spice challenge my friends and I partake in, and I enjoy every chance I get to share my mom’s cooking with anyone I can. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to and immerse myself in another country spending summers in India, and discovering my Hindu faith. Those around me may see me as different, and I would agree. But I can honestly and sincerely say that I enjoy the singling out. People have always listened when I speak, they try new things when I cook, and hear new perspectives and ideas that they may have never been exposed to. I take pride in that, and do see it as a great strength. Ankur Chawla
  • 25. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia when I was in elementary school. I was teased in my classes for being incapable of reading, and my teachers did not think very much of me. Some even went so far as to tell me I would never be able to succeed in school and probably would not be able to make it to college. Seeing something my teachers were missing, and knowing how intelligent I am, my parents quickly found me a doctor and a tutor that both were the difference for me. My tutor taught me to read, basic math, and set me up with the skills necessary to excel in both school and life. My fellow classmates still laughed when I tried to read aloud but I knew I was improving so I continued to work to prove myself. I saw my dyslexia as a flaw and thought of it as something I had to overcome. It took a very long time for me to realize otherwise. I had many people who believed in and supported me through these difficult years as I began to learn how to live with such a disorder. I participated in monthly testing with a doctor in the city who would look into how I was doing with my tutoring. He would have me read passages, taking notes for every word I missed or misspoke. I knew I was still marked as mentally disabled and pushed aside in school, but I was improving. When the monthly testing and weekly tutoring ended each time, I found myself escaping to our unfinished basement to work on paintings, drawings, jewelry and sculptures. I loved to create and I enjoyed how I could usually see things differently than my family and friends. It took another five years before I began to see the reason for my “creative eye” was actually my dyslexia. I could visualize images or text lifting off of a page, floating in three-dimensional space, or move them around on the paper. Imagining different parts moving allowed me to come up with interesting and new layouts or compositions. As I began realizing how much my dyslexia was helping me, I started to consider it a benefit rather than a flaw. Today, many articles have been released about how dyslexics can make the best visual designers or artists. Many people have begun looking at the disability in a new light. This has further shown me that this ‘flaw’ I dealt with my entire childhood, the reason for so much cruelty, is actually one of the key elements to making up who I am today. With this realization I have begun to see other perceived ‘flaws’ in myself to in fact be benefits. This has led me to strongly believe that we all need to take a step back and really look at ourselves in as unbiased of a way as we can. Remove all of the negativity from those around you and look at the things that have bothered you most. I would go so far as to say that you may begin to see your flaws as benefits, and that will begin to change the way you look at yourself. We are all truly flawlessly imperfect. Mary Courtney Madigan
  • 26. Portrait of Jay Barilla; Original photograph taken by Lindsey Bisch, Edited by Mary Courtney Madigan Portrait of Mary Courtney Madigan; Original photograph taken by Hyesoo Kim, Edited by Mary Courtney Madigan MCM