Hi, my name is Rithwik Anand. I am 20 years old, currently a third-year college student, and a national-level football player from Noida, India. I had my first encounter with vitiligo in 2008. Aged 7, this was the time when I started noticing my first patch.
Due to my visual difference, making good friends became difficult in my childhood. My peers used slurs such as Dalmatian, Patchy, and, Blacky for me. Everyone used to make fun of me. The bullying had hurt me so badly that I ended up being afraid to go out. I mostly stayed home all day long and used to watch TV and eat junk. As a result, I gained a lot of weight. At this point, I had no goal or dream. The constant question on my mind was – “Why me?” At such tender age, I wasn’t brave enough to embrace it and was embarrassed by how I looked. When asked about vitiligo, I didn’t know how to educate anyone on the subject.
It took me years to get comfortable with myself. By my 16th birthday, my family’s support and talking to my siblings about it made it stronger. The result? I managed to come out of my inferiority complex.
Throughout finding self-love, football inspired me. Spending time at the football ground made me forget all the negatives life threw at me. Gradually my performance on the ground became my priority. All the bullying, physical insecurity blurred away. It assured me that I am much more than my appearance. So far, I have represented the Delhi state team in senior men nationals and represented Delhi in junior nationals (B.C. Roy trophy).
I am much comfortable and confident with me but a part of me wishes that I never had vitiligo. But, at the end of the day, one has to accept the reality and keep moving on. My go-to advice? Stop worrying about things you can’t change and start working on things you can. Remember everything happens for a reason and it’s up to be positive about setbacks. Life is so much more than your physical appearance. Love yourself to an extent that people can’t fail to fall for your positive vibes.