A 25-year-old New York-based college student is transforming a birthmark that covers a majority of his arm into a map of an imaginary world with just a pen.
The student, named Jacob, posted the images of what he calls his "birthmap" onto Reddit, and they quickly spread across the web.
Jacob told BuzzFeed News he has been doodling on his hand for as long as he can remember, but began seeing his birthmark as a map in high school. He said to draw the full map takes an hour and a half or more.
Jacob shared with BuzzFeed News drawings he has made of the world the map represents.
He says it took time, but he's learned to accept his birthmark. "I felt pride that the marks that distinguish my skin were not chosen, but the result of quirky genetic mutations and so far more meaningful to me," he said.
His birthmark has also taught him to not rush to judgment. "I think of it as my own private lens by which to see a world filled with people with differences, visible or invisible, that they think alienates them from everyone else."
The attention from his post was surprising, Jacob said, but he has enjoyed sharing stories with others like him. "I could post about my birthmark a hundred times and not fully communicate what it was like to grow up and live with it," he said.
Though he's considered tattooing the map, he's not sure if he wants to. "I love my map, but I don't feel the need to outline it for others," he explained.
For those with birthmarks like his, Jacob says he has a simple message: "Your birthmark doesn't define you any more than you let it," he said.
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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