Not your typical student

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As a seventeen-year-old, balancing high school, extracurricular activities, and personal matters isn’t always easy. Having to learn what works best in terms of scheduling homework, adding stress by joining different clubs and societies, and just plain old juggling drama that comes with having family and friends can be harder to cope with than most realize. Things are different in high school than they are in middle school and elementary school and you have to be prepared for the changes that occur within our thinking processes and most of all? The changes that occur within ourselves. Washington Township senior Emma Chambers ‘17 knows this fact better than anyone.

Chambers is one of the poster children for excellent students that make up Washington Township and what is prided here. Chambers is dedicated to her worth ethic with her type A behavior pattern, characterized as organized, neat, and structured. She has been an honor’s student all four years of her high school career and treasures this fact very dearly.

“I’m always thinking ahead. If I slack off now, what will that mean for me in the future?” she says.

Chambers, along with being a model student is very involved in extra-curriculars. With obtaining a captain position in marching band, playing oboe in day band, being a member of intramural soccer, Washington Township’s swim team, and finally keeping her grades up to be eligible to be in National Honor’s Society and Tri-M Music Honor’s Society, her plate is extremely full.

However, nothing could be quite as difficult to handle than a major surgery that can potential change how you used to look and feel forever. On August 16th of this year, Chambers had undergone surgery to rearrange her jaw for the benefit of her breathing and other features. In fifth grade, she had her lower jaw come unhinged which moved her facial features around like her nose and chin. Her doctors tried everything to help correct this, but surgery seemed to be the only option. Two years ago this idea of facial reconstruction was presented to Chambers, but her parents were against someone as young as her going through something as serious as this surgery. It wasn’t until last year that her family made the conscious decision to say yes and prepare.

The surgery as Chambers explained it would make her chin smaller, her nose bigger, the bump on the bridge of her nose lessened, her lips fuller, and her cheek bones heightened. In other words, she’d look significantly different than how she did before. After the surgery, her doctor explained that her overbite would be fixed, her breathing would be deeper due to her nose not being pinched any longer.

“[the surgery] was never a problem for me.” She explained that she has a very low pain tolerance which kept her fears at bay. “The only time [my face] ever hurts”, she says, “is when I talk too much or the weather changes drastically.”

Along with the physical side effects such as pain that Chambers had to deal with, she also had to combat the emotional side effects of feeling different and wondering how others would react to her after this surgery. Emma was afraid of something like this happening. “Oh, of course!”

This surgery happened late in the summer and she was extremely swollen which made Chambers look barely recognizable. “I knew I didn’t look good. I looked weird and not normal. I even had a panic attack getting my laptop for school over the summer. A girl in the beginning of the year asked if I was a new student too.”

Chambers had to deal with the embarrassment as well. “I was always embarrassed. It was a long process of feeling self-conscious and having low self-esteem. It’s always going to be in the back of my mind. I have to constantly remember and check all of this stuff that I never had to before.” Although Chambers had a lot on her mind during this time, she did have a great support system through her family members. Her grandparents, parents, and her two siblings, Jack ‘20 and junior Gracie ‘18 were right by her side through all of this. “My mother was my biggest supporter through the whole thing.” Friends also came over to be with her; it was awkward at first, but Chambers knew that the reaction was to be expected and things would look up eventually.

Looking back on the surgery now, she still has mixed feelings. “I have good days and bad days.” Sometimes she’ll feel really good about how she looks and then other days, one little incident can change all that in an instant. “I know that these feelings will get better with time.” Chambers doesn’t regret the surgery in the ways that matter. “It really depends on the day. It’s weird to think about.”

All in all, she’s happy with how she physically feels instead of how she emotionally feels.

For people who may be going through something similar whether it’s a surgery or personal, Chambers has some words of wisdom on the subject. “I was fortunate enough to fix my problem. Luckily there’s a surgery for that, but not everyone has that opportunity. Just embrace it and find a good able. Some people look at themselves and think ten times worse than what they actually are. I sound hypocritical because I fixed my flaws, but there will always be things I want to fix about myself so it comes full circle. Be happy with who you are always.”

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Not your typical student