I recently had lunch with a new friend, and she mentioned her recovery from a near fatal illness almost a decade ago. I had no idea she had ever been ill because she looked fantastic and completely healthy. However, as she began to tell me her story, she showed me two scars from the ordeal.

As we sat across from each other at a French restaurant downtown, we began to show one another our various scars. We were animated, we laughed, we talked about how we gained these new parts of ourselves and, most importantly, we talked about how thankful we are to have these reminders of our trials and tribulations, moments in our lives when we thought we would never see a light. And yet, here are our scars to remind us of all we have been through, our strength and our ability to move forward and ahead.

I sometimes forget I have a two-inch scar across my forehead. I call it my Harry Potter scar. I got this particular scar more than 20 years ago in a 12-car pileup. Actually, it began with a truck hitting the car in which I was a passenger. I’ve had several opportunities to get the scar “removed,” but each time I scheduled the appointment, I canceled it. I finally realized I like my scar. I like what it reminds me of. It’s part of my history, and if we look at our bodies as maps, it tells where I’ve been and how I became who I am today.

Another great benefit to having scars is that even though most adults are trained not to ask about scars, and in many ways we train ourselves not to see these “imperfections,” kids always see them. It seems like every child under the age of 7 is fascinated with my scar. They want to know how I got it (slamming heads with my best friend upon impact), when I got it (when I was 16), where I got it (visiting Baltimore) and, most of all, did it hurt (like you wouldn’t believe).

I also tell them that I am closer than ever with the girl in the car (my head-bump buddy) and still see her several times a year in Baltimore. I wow them with stories of that particular day (not many people have flown in a helicopter wearing only a blanket). I also tell them about the kindness of all of the strangers who helped keep me alive that day, from the paramedics to the security guard who held my hand as I got more than 300 stitches.

It wasn’t until my new friend and I shared our similar outlook about our scars that I realized how much I forget to celebrate all of the imperfections I have gained over the past few decades. Life is not perfect and neither are we. However, our scars do remind us of all of the beauty that surrounds us, the kindness that has anchored us and kept us going and the strength that each of us possesses every day.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is a tenured professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.” You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.