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Natalie Merlo's message? "It's OK to be different"


Natalie Merlo, 18, is getting ready to go to college this fall. But, she writes on her Huffington Post blog, as she was going through photos to take with her, she realized she had perhaps 10 snaps of herself from her last high school hurrah.

 

You see, Natalie has always felt different, and during high school, she felt that difference keenly. When she was 4, she was diagnosed with Crouzon Syndrome. Physically, she has large eyes and a lower jaw that jutted out. She looked…different…and she hated it.

 

This summer, however, she chose to stand out in another way. She opted to have a titanium “halo” device attached to her face. The contraption would move her facial bones forward.

 

“At first I felt every stare,” she writes. “It was overwhelming when I thought about how many people had seen me out with my family or friends and were talking about me. But that got so tiring to worry about, it made me unable to enjoy what should have been fun times in my final months at home. So one day, I just let it go.”

 

Natalie says she took more pictures during the last three months than she took throughout her senior year of high school. She was not wilting wallflower or shut in; her most anticipated event was a One Direction concert she attended with her friends.

 

While people still stare at her now, during the last weeks of her wearing the halo, she doesn’t worry about what they think. Instead, she lives confidently, focusing on having fun and going about her day rather than what other people are thinking.

 

Bravo, Natalie, and thank you for sharing a lesson we all need to learn!

 

 

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BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 9/22/2013 12:00:00 AM

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