I’ve been asked whether my vitiligo has ever affected my career advancement. A concerned parent wanted to know if they needed to prepare their daughter, an aspiring scientist, for a rough road ahead.
I was pre-med in college because I wanted to become a medical doctor. My body was very sick, and had been failing me for a long time…a rapid heart beat, hand tremors, and constant fatigue. I said to myself that there was no way I could be a surgeon with shaky hands. And eventually, I started pursuing alternate interests and career options.
No, this is not a vitiligo story, but it’s one in which I let my personal situation derail one my dreams. Today, I am healed and no longer have those health issues. Maybe I could have been a surgeon after all. I’m certainly happy, purposeful, and proud of where I am and the work I do, but that former style of thinking could have really landed me in a place of regret.
So what do I tell the parents of that little girl…or any parent for that matter? While I’m sure that my appearance has shocked some and intrigued others, do not let how you think people may react influence the goals you wish to pursue.
Vitiligo has presented its share of challenges, but I don’t believe it has substantially impacted my career in a negative way. I could be wrong, but I’ve generally been offered jobs that I have interviewed for. I started my career as a biomedical scientist conducting research at top-tier institutions. I have taught as a university professor. I speak to audiences across the United States and abroad concerning various topics in STEM, professional and career development, and Christian ministry. I don’t say this to brag about my resume, but to reinforce that the sky is the limit.
You don’t know what tomorrow holds. You may not be comfortable in your skin today, but you WILL get there. And when you do, you want to look back and say that you didn’t allow your fears to detour your destiny. I believe the world is open enough to receive you. And as long as you have the skills and capacity to the job, and present yourself as a capable candidate, the sky is your limit.