Be different and be happy!

My name is Jodie. I was born with a cleft lip and palate which has left me with a scar on my face and a nose that L1doesn’t look quite like most.

When I was at school, I got bullied. Nothing too serious, name calling mostly, but it was enough to make me cry and feel sad. My mum gave me all sorts of helpful things to say back to these people, but somehow it was never enough. I just wanted to be like everyone else. My doctors had told me that when I turned eighteen they would give me an operation to make my nose look normal and I couldn’t wait. But, at thirteen, eighteen seemed so far away.

I had two good friends at school, but was very shy and didn’t like talking to people. I didn’t really like myself very much and thought that no-one else would either. Worst of all, I thought I would never get a boyfriend! Who would ever want to go out with someone who had a ‘flat face’?

The turning point came when I left school at sixteen to do my A-levels at sixth form. I decided during the walk to college on my first day that things were going to change. I was about to meet a lot of new people and could either carry on being shy and sad, or I could be completely different and show people that I am more than just a face! And show them I did! I wore my brightest pair of trousers to ensure that I would stand out and although I found it difficult, I started talking to people. I made loads of new friends and sixth form was a laugh. I loved it! I also met my first boyfriend, Elliott, there. He didn’t think my face looked funny, he thought I was beautiful, inside and out.

Before I knew it, I was eighteen, was on my second boyfriend (Elliott had moved away to become a red coat at L2Butlins) and the operation on my nose was looming. I had a really tough time deciding whether or not I should have it. By this time I had realised that my face didn’t make me who I was – it was a part of me, but I was made up of much more than just the way I looked. Plus, I didn’t feel that I needed to change my face, although it wasn’t perfect it was a part of me and I actually quite liked it! In the end I had the operation. Why? Because I felt I owed it to my thirteen year old self. She had spent so much time crying and wishing to be eighteen, how could I let her down?

I actually ended up having two operations on my nose and although I like it, it wasn’t the big thing that I thought it would be. It didn’t change my life, because I was already happy with my life. I realised (and I know it sounds cheesy) that you can change the outside as much as you want, but it’s the inside that counts.

I am twenty four now and live and work in London. I have a fantastic job working for the probation service. I have a great social life, with a good set of friends, and boyfriend number four! My mum asked me the other day if I would have any more work done on my face and I said a definite ‘no’. My face isn’t perfect, but who’s is? I am happy with the way I look, but more importantly with myself as a whole person – inside and out!