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To Sam

Will My Scars Hurt My Career As a Volunteer?

I've been recently having a really hard time with my self-harm. I have an addiction, there's no saying "No" to that. But, the problem is, when I get upset about something, I have urges to self-harm. This is most likely happening to me everyday now, and I'm quite honestly a bit scared. I'm scared of myself. I'm scared that I'll have an uncontrollable urge that I can't fight off, and I'll grab my Xacto knife and start carving at my skin.
Now moving on, I recently got hired as a volunteer at a summer camp. I'm only 13, but my parents thought it would be good for me to move up in life. They thought it might also help me with my major depression, and my severe social anxiety; to which I won't argue with them at all. I think facing your fears (social anxiety), is a very good thing to do in my case.
The problem is, I have scars on my arms and legs going up the front of them. I don't tend to wear shorts, bathing suits, etc. It's summer right now, and as most people know, it's obviously hot in the summer. I have a hard time with this because I can't wear long sleeves as much. I alone prefer long sleeves more in some cases, but where I'll be working and running with kids all day, so I can't put on long sleeves as much. (My style of clothing is also 'punk' or 'grunge', so most of my clothes consist of darker colours, which of course, attract heat...)
So, what's your opinion on this? I'm afraid that if I wear short sleeves at the camp, the counclers will think I'm dangerous, and force me never to come back. I've heard of that kind of thing happening before; where someone who self-harms gets kicked out of a workplace because they can't be trusted not to hurt themseleves or employees, or pose as a threat to people, etc.
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Self-harm can be very difficult to give up because you use it as a coping strategy for when you feel upset. And it might become addictive. Many young people use self-harm as way to cope with their problems but there are other ways you might be able to cope. If someone is self-harming it doesn’t mean they are a threat to other people. It would be wrong for anyone to judge you like that.

If you’re thinking about stopping, it's important that you take things one step at a time so you don’t end up putting too much pressure on yourself. It's also important that you try a few different ideas, because different things work for different people. You can find out a bit more about this on our self-harm coping techniques page or look at the message boards where other young people share their advice, support and experiences.

It’s up to you to decide whether you should wear short sleeves or not. And you don’t have to share anything personal with other people unless you’re comfortable with them knowing. If you felt comfortable then you could always bring it up first and explain it in your own words. If you feel able to talk to your parents then they may be able to talk to the camp for you.

You can also find some more information on how to deal with scars at Self-harm UK.

It takes a lot of courage to try and face your fears and also to share your feelings and it is great that you have been able to write this.

Remember ChildLine counsellors are always here to listen.

Take care 

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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