This I Believe

Lindsey - 02903, Rhode Island
Entered on January 11, 2009

Hardship creates strength; strength illuminates beauty, this I believe. Each individual has a journey in which to follow. Adversity is amongst each person. Personally, I have turned an illness that makes me weak into a reason to become strong. My journey has led me to a place of contentment; hardship along the way has instilled strength and a sense of beauty within myself.

Past circumstances have allowed me to overcome a battle within. At just two years of age, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). Being young, I was naïve to what this meant or even that it affected me. I was like any other child who loved to giggle, be outside and play games like hide and seek. As I grew older, soccer became a passion, and then softball and being with friends became a part of who I was. I lived a happy childhood and that’s what I had grown to know. My life was soon to change though. As middle school began, my health and mind began to endure changes and adult prescriptions became a ritual in my daily life. As I reached high school, so did physical hardships. Getting out of bed in the morning, walking up stairs, lifting my legs over the bath tub and simple tasks were difficult for me. I had learned that I had taken advantage of even the simplest physical luxuries. Medications were supposed to make me healthier, stronger but in reality, the medications tore me to pieces. Yes, physical pain subsided but my appearance and personality reflected the inability to perform like a healthy human being. For the first time in my life I had realized, that I was sick. I went from being a thriving young individual, to lacking any desire to succeed in life. I had let Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis take over and I had in a sense become my disease. I had let it control my life and what I stood for. Though in my heart, I knew that I needed to push through, fight back during this time in my life. By the end of my junior year I was struggling to stay afloat but all I wanted was to prove to myself and others that I was just like everyone else. But, I would never be close to “everyone else” and there was nothing to prove to anyone. I had learned that the only person I needed to become strong for was myself. By the time I reached graduation, I felt a renewed sense of strength. Not only had I accomplished a step in my education, I had overcome a personal battle with myself. The battle to accept that I have an illness; this has helped me to overcome any obstacle that is placed before me.

Over the years I have come to find that hardships in life are like broken mirrors. When looking in the shattered mirror, one can stare and focus at the broken shards of glass as long as they please, but it will always be a broken mirror. But one can choose to look past the shattered reflection and find beauty in the picture; it all depends on how a reflection is perceived. This is who I am, what I think I am, and what I want to become. My life is not the broken mirror, but the beautiful image when I look beyond the lines.

Overall, I would say that the one thing I would change if I could live my life over again would to live without Arthritis. But somehow, I believe I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today. Each day I wake up with new hope; look past imperfections and clutch onto a dream to proceed in life. At one point, I had felt self-failure and stared only at the broken mirror. I could no longer grasp a tangible image, and I had slowly become the girl in the mirror, I could hardly recognize. I was lost, devoured by physical and mental weakness. Lost in the shadows of what I thought I was “supposed” to be and hating every moment that went by that that feeling still resided in my heart. Though I have begun to understand that if I could have nothing else in this world, that having strength and self-worth is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves. I have found that the strength built from overcoming difficulties had instilled in me a beauty that is not just given to a person, but a beauty and appreciation that I have found within.

The different experiences in my life have taught me that my struggles only create more reason to be proud of what I accomplish. I was given one life, one life only. I have realized that I will always face adversity, but I am the one that can create a better outcome of any situation. When given a broken mirror, I will look past the shards, stand beyond the shadows and see only the beauty that lies beyond. Hardship creates strength; strength illuminates beauty, this I believe.