Katie is the wonderful creator of Cleft Corner, a superb website offering support for those with or affected by cleft lip and palate. Please check out her awesome website here: https://cleftcorner.com/.
She has kindly agreed to write about her positive outlook on her cleft and how she uses it as her ‘filter’. I personally love this idea, hope you enjoy her article below:
Hey! How’s it going? My name is Katie. I’m twenty-five years old, from St. Louis, Missouri, and was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.
In recent years, I’ve realized my cleft acts as a filter. Not so much an Instagram or photo filter (although I think it makes me look pretty good!), but a coffee filter: it only lets the good things go through (and by good things, I mean people).
It has brought the best people into my life. These are the people who looked past my difference, didn’t notice it, found it a great characteristic, or were genuinely interested in my life and experiences.
When I was younger, my cleft produced questions for many kids, but my best friends, (who remain so to this day) that I met at four or five years old, didn’t ask much. They didn’t make fun of me. They didn’t care. They stuck around.
Adults were tricky, especially through my childhood years. Many looked down on me or assumed I wasn’t very intelligent. (This still happens to me as a twenty-five year old professional.) Trust me, you can tell the kind adults from the rude and fake ones in a heartbeat. Sometimes faster than kids. But luckily, my filter blocked out the ones that wouldn’t be with me the rest of my life, supporting me every step of the way.
It was tough to make new friends during my teenage years. Everybody was in their awkward stage, but mine had a little something extra. Instead of uncomfortable, blunt questions to my face as I had when I was a kid, there was more pointing, staring, and whispered conversations. Mean things were said, but not by everybody. Not by the people that made it through my cleft filter. I soon had such a supportive and trustful group of friends in high school.
Getting to college, I was worried about my filter’s strength: it had been through a lot. Plus, we were adults now (technically). At this point in my life, I realized everyone was looking for something that made them different or unique. I had mine. I had become stronger because of it. And I trusted in my filter. College was everything I was hoping it would be.
Now, I am twenty-five years old. I have a career. My cleft filter still comes into play with co-workers, clients, and the public. My filter has taught me how to spot the nice ones, the fun ones, the trustful ones. The ones that won’t assume anything about me or doubt my intelligence or professional background. My cleft is my tool that I use every single day: from looking awesome, to finding awesome people that are worth letting through. :}
Written by and pictures from Katie, Cleft Corner
Edited and introduction by Beth Angella