What I’ve Got
There are countless clichés repeated day after day that the repetition can often render them meaningless. Most people try to live their lives cliché free, but sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a better way to put it. I’m a little ashamed to say this, but I live by one of these clichés. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get away from the saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s taken away,” which I’ve recently discovered to be a driving force in my life.
It seems so much longer, but a mere year and a half ago, at the ripe old age of fifteen, my adolescence was unfairly taken from me. After weeks of being poked and prodded, countless numbers of blood tests, and enough doctor visits to last a lifetime, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy organs in your body instead of fighting off bacteria and it had decided to reside in me. Immediately, I was rushed into hospital care and my life was forever changed. My hospital stays totaled a little over a month and I was sent home with a brand new disease.
Since then I’ve had the same never ending list of blood tests and have been bustled from doctor to doctor, in hopes of keeping my disease under control. Because of this I’ve had my adolescence taken from me. I’ve had to grow up at a rapid pace and missed some of those “teenage” experiences. Instead of worrying about what I’m doing next weekend or what cute boy likes me, I’ve had to worry about blood tests coming back with irregular results and what that means to my health. As much as this has affected my life in a negative way, I can’t decide if it’s been a blessing or a curse. Of course there are the many obvious setbacks of bad days and insecure feelings and I would never have wanted this to intentionally happen, but it’s also helped me in ways I never imagined.
I believe that your darkest hours help you define who you really are. Having gone through what I went through has taken something that I’ll never be able to retrieve, but has showed me that much more about myself. I’ve learned who my real friends are, those that were there through it all, and that sometimes being the outcast isn’t the worst thing that can happen in life. I now know that the true me isn’t the one constantly judged by the current rubric of what is “cool”, but the spunky, spontaneous, lively young lady that I hold in my heart. I’ve learned many of my limitations, some more reluctantly than others, and that sometimes leaning on those around you is the only way to get through the bad. But most importantly, from having my adolescence so unjustly taken, I now know that I can take on the world, and succeed.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.