Meet Vanessa McWIlliams

September is Alopecia Awareness Month, and with each passing year, I wonder how I can show up bigger for those around me who also live with the auto-immune condition.

Many of us are in different places with our journeys.

Some of us are accepting, and thriving.

Some of us are not sure of where we are, and still trying to find answers.

But one thing is the same for us all - we are all beautiful, worthy and enough exactly as we are.

This month I will be sharing stories of other Alopecia friends, in their own words. They will be opening up their hearts to share their own stories, hoping to shed some light on what it's like to love with this condition, and to also share hope with others.

Living with alopecia has not always been something I have accepted.

For over 20 years I tried to hide it for fear of being shamed or ridiculed for looking different. The toll it took on my mental health will always be with me, but I try to use it now to help others.

I went to great lengths to mask who I truly was, and I was miserable.

It wasn't until I stopped looking for validation outside of myself that I was able to get still, and look into my heart.

Here is where I found myself. Hidden beneath years of conditioning from the outside.

Sitting there waiting for me, I was finally able to see her.

Her truth, her beauty, her smile, her compassion.

Under all of the unnecessary shit that the world told her she needed, and needed to be.

I found her.

And it was her, sitting on rock bottom, waiting all of these years - that stood up, dusted herself off and began doing the heart work.

With every doubt and fear, she held on and looked inwards.

With every comment or stare, she held on and looked inwards.

With every praise and compliment, she held on and looked inwards.

With every new obstacle, she held on.

And looked inwards.

And this is what set her free.

Not the outside that tried to tell her who to be, but the trusting in herself to find her own way.

And this is the message I want to share with the world - If you are looking to the outside for validation and your worth, you are playing a game which you will never win.

It's only when you can look within yourself to find what makes you happy, and live from there that you will find true confidence and self love.

As a 9 year old girl I thought Alopecia was the end. I didn't understand at the time that the pain, the hurt, the judgement would all come full circle one day to become my greatest blessing. It's been with years of understanding and compassion that I can now say it's a way that I get to connect with others, and spread love and kindness. It's within the pain that I found a rare ability to see past your exterior, and straight into your heart that only Alopecia has given me.

As always, you are worthy, beautiful and enough exactly as you are.

Always have been.

Always will be.

xoxo Ness

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