Am I Worth Less?

One of the hardest parts about having a chronic illness is feeling like I have less value because I am not contributing as much to the community as my peers. Before I got sick I was working toward pursuing a career in journalism. I took internships, worked part time at a newspaper, and was excited to continue my journey working at Seventeen magazine to hopefully impact young women in a positive way. I have always felt that words are one of the most powerful tools we have, and all of us have a wonderful opportunity to lift others up and make them feel less alone in this big world.

I always dread the question, “So, what do you do?” when I meet someone new. I hate explaining right off the bat, “Well, I got sick when I graduated from college, so I’m trying to get back on my feet and am working on getting my health in line.” Over five years later now I have made leaps and bounds in progress, but I still am figuring out how to manage what I’ve begun to accept as my new normal. Not only is my answer incredibly awkward, but I also just feel so lame not having a cool job or anything to show for my life. I worked so freaking hard before I got sick and have absolutely nothing to show for it anymore. The internship I had at a national news company isn’t relevant anymore, and my job at Seventeen wasn’t able to materialize into what it could have because I couldn’t even walk down the driveway to the mailbox when I first got sick. My illness didn’t just take my body away from me; it took away every sense of normalcy I had ever worked to create. I have nothing to be proud of, and feels like I can’t make an adequate contribution to society anymore. I have relied on others to take care of me, when all I have ever wanted to do was be able to take care of others.

If anyone who had a chronic illness told me they felt worthless, my heart would feel completely broken and I would try as hard as I possibly could to show them what an enormous, ugly lie that was. People shouldn’t feel like they don’t have worth in this world just because their body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Our value does not reside in what we do — or don’t do — for a living, and people can still change lives when their bodies don’t work properly.

Whether or not you are a Christian, I think the Bible has a really beautiful sentiment about our worth as human beings. Psalm 139: 13-14 says, “For You [God] formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” This doesn’t say that we have value because of our job or what we do; it says we were born having value. We are made in God’s image, and He only creates beauty for the world. I think it’s very powerful knowing that even before ever doing anything in the world we have irreplaceable value. Just ask a mother of a newborn baby; she will say that her child means absolutely everything to her, and that is merely for existing, it isn’t anything he has done to make her feel this way.

I am a firm believer that everyone has a purpose in the world and can make a difference in a way that no one else could. Just because you are bedridden or need to be taken care of absolutely does not mean you don’t have value in the world. You have qualities to offer people that make you absolutely irreplaceable in their lives, so we need to stop telling ourselves the lie that we aren’t as valuable because we are different.

On the other hand, I understand the ache that is in your heart for the opportunities you have missed and feeling like some of life has passed you by. I don’t have the resume I would have had if I hadn’t gotten sick, and there are a lot of experiences I missed out on. It’s weird listening to my friends all talk about what they’re doing at work and how comfortable they are there. I still remember working at the magazine’s office like it was yesterday, but I also think that experience was so different because you’re the lowest on the totem pole. Dealing with an illness does teach you what is important in the world, though, and gives amazing perspective people often don’t have until much later on in life. It teaches you to hold on to all the amazing blessings you are given, because sometimes they can be fleeting, and to be thankful for the people closest to you. It teaches lessons of patience, hard work, and resilience. You learn what it’s like to be empathetic with people, rather than just offering sympathy, and you are given an opportunity to be a light for others who go through the exact same things you deal with on an every day basis. Chronic illness builds beautiful warriors who have such important lessons they need to share with the world.

I understand questioning your worth as much as anyone else with a chronic illness, and I am right there with you trying to find my own purpose. The words I wrote on this page make sense to my brain and I know that my life has incredible value, but my heart sometimes has a hard time making the connection. I feel lost in a big world that doesn’t understand me, and I am getting swallowed up in the lies I tell myself at night. Being sick has taught me I’m a fighter, though, and I’m not going to stop searching until I figure out what I’m here for. Deep down I know I have an important role in the world. I just might take a little longer to figure out what it is and that’s okay.

rainbow.png

Choosing A Season Of Joy

I’m baaaaack! A lot has gone on in the week and a half I took off, but I’m ready to write again and update you all on some new developments.

It’s been crazy rainy lately and my POTS symptoms seem to get aggravated during changes in weather. Something interesting about POTS is that it affects a bunch of important organs, and has trouble finding homeostasis when even minor changes are introduced. My physical therapist takes my blood pressure and heart rate every single session — before and after and sometimes during my workouts — and it’s crazy to see that whenever I feel symptomatic my blood pressure is super low, and my heart rate is higher than usual. One cool thing about people with chronic illnesses is that we really know our bodies well. I can almost always pinpoint what is physically wrong with me because of the way my symptoms are behaving. We are going to start looking at the barometric pressure and my blood pressure throughout the day, just as a little test to see how they compare since both of us have noticed this trend. I can’t wait until POTS has been studied better and we can just look up a million and one facts about it, and one day there can actually be a cure.

Which leads me to my next point. I have been trying to be really cognizant of the blessings I have in my life lately. It makes every obstacle a whole lot easier to tackle, and I have felt more peace and joy by looking at the great things God has given me, rather than focusing only on the pain or discomfort. Today, for example, I saw a sweet little bunny outside on our front lawn. He was eating part of our flowers, but I sat and watched him until he was ready to leave before I walked past him. While I was sitting on the porch I saw a little red robin fly into a puddle next to our yard, and he started to fluff his feathers and bathe himself. These two little moments made my heart so warm the rest of the night.

As far as wedding planning goes, we keep making slow and steady progress. Robert and I got our wedding bands this week and they’re absolutely perfect. I keep putting mine on every time I go to his house because I love it so much! I am super sentimental, so I love that he picked everything out for me, but it’s also just so me. I love his too, and I think he looks super handsome with a wedding band. I wrote a little message to him in it so he’ll always be reminded of how I feel when he looks at it. 🙂 Despite all the stress of planning, I keep realizing how fast this time is going by and reminding myself that the primary feeling of this time of engagement should be joy. We have four months to go as of today, and I am so, so excited.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 10.24.21 PM.png

My Resolution To Be Fearless

We are over 4 months into the new year and I decided to reevaluate how I am doing on my resolution to fear less in my everyday life. I wouldn’t quite say I am failing, but I’d give myself a “C” on this front, and I am not okay with that.

Having a lifestyle blog for anyone in the world to read is a little nerve-wracking, but the fact that any of my friends, family, and acquaintances can read about some of my deepest feelings and thoughts is a whole lot scarier than strangers following along my journey. My best friends know what kind of beautiful, fearful, and thoughtful desires are in my heart, but putting it on paper for those who don’t know me very well makes everything feel a whole lot more intimidating. Ink is permanent and words are sometimes interpreted by readers differently than the writer intends.

I know people like to talk about what others are up to sometimes. I do think about 99% of my readers are kindhearted amazing people who genuinely want what’s best for me, so despite having a good number of readers on this little online space, I believe it’s safe to share my heart with you all. I also know how easy it is to make snap judgments about others on social media, though. This blog showcases a small piece of my life, despite my best efforts to share meaningful things with y’all, and it can be difficult when friends make an assumption based on one, three, or a dozen little posts from a couple days of life. Feelings can be long and drawn out or incredibly fleeting, and I write a lot about both. 

After thinking about it a lot, I’m not going to say I’m done with being afraid — because I’m totally not, and there will be times I won’t share a lot of what’s going on in my life — but I am going to use the next few months to put a lot out there and cross off some of my goals without worrying so much about what other people might think. I will continue to work to “fear less” every day so that one day I might be able to call myself “fearless” in pursuing my dreams.

fearless.png

To The Creatives Of The World

Your work matters too.

Having a chronic illness makes me so, so thankful for people who are different than I am. I appreciate the people who can handle blood and unhinged joints, and those who have brains that work for chemistry and biology. I’m not wired like that; I enjoy using my hands to write and create stories. I like painting metaphorical pictures for people, and I love resurfacing feelings from my heart and putting them on paper for others to read and relate to.

Something that really kept my spirits up when I first got sick with POTS was watching The Food Network and reruns of The Office. Laughter is often some of the best medicine, and despite not being able to do very much physically, I was able to laugh and dream. I learned as much as I could about food and health, and I lived each moment in the present as the room spun in circles around me.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 10.49.45 AM.png

Every chapter of my life has included a soundtrack. I hear an old favorite song and it takes me back to a memory. I often do my best writing while I am listening to music, and will play a song on repeat until I have spilled old feelings on the pages in front of me. Despite not having the same ones anymore, I have a perfect memory for feelings. I know them all so well and even though I can’t remember dates, numbers, or physical details, I always remember how my heart felt about something. The best part about my writing is that it strikes a chord with people. With each blog post I get messages about how someone could relate to my own thoughts and feelings, and I take a lot of joy in knowing I can make others feel less alone by sharing my life with them.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 10.49.57 AM.png

There are a lot of people in the world who get credit for their practical work, but I think creative people sometimes get left out of the thankfulness. I’ve written posts about how great I think people like doctors, physical therapists, nurses, and researchers are — without them I would be a complete wreck — but I’ve conveniently left out the people I understand most. The artists, the writers, the actors, and the comedians who all make life just that much brighter and more beautiful. The world is a really cool place because we have such a vast mix of humans who care about all of the other kinds of people. Without the left brains we wouldn’t be able to fix painful everyday problems, and without the right brains we wouldn’t have all the entertainment options we do. Both types of people bring more joy to the world, and we are all are a piece of the puzzle that makes for a happier society as a whole. No matter what your talent is, use it to make the world a better place.

Today’s lesson: Just because you can’t cure sicknesses or fix things doesn’t mean you aren’t important to the world. Laughter and bringing joy through the form of creativity and entertainment is a very important job. Keep practicing what you do best and giving back to the world with your own unique talents.

I’d Like To File A Complaint

Do you ever find yourself really annoyed because you find yourself complaining about something really trivial like being stuck in traffic or not having any milk keft in the fridge?

That’s how I feel today. I went to a concert last night at my alma mater, and my lower back is k i l l i n g me. I think I hurt myself from standing too long and not wearing the proper shoes (read: sneakers), which sounds ridiculous but is life with EDS in a nutshell.

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 9.29.53 AM.png

Really, though, my brain is functioning well, it’s rainy and I don’t feel super symptomatic, and my heart is content. My main issue is that I am medium-grumpy today. The pain is getting on my nerves, and I feel frustrated that every time I do something fun and different I have to take it easy for a few days after, while my friends can keep going and going without any problems. I am annoyed at my body for not just being normal — the way it used to be — and I hate feeling like a grandma at 27. Everything takes so much planning, and I turn down certain plans that I want to do, just because I have to weigh how much I have going on the entire week, rather than just a single day.

So, since I am bitching about a million and one things right now, I want to take a minute and realize what I should be thankful for.

I can get up off the couch and walk around. I have feet, legs, and arms that all work. My heart works twice as hard to keep me alive, but it’s pumping and keeping me going! Most of my organs are a bit goofy, but they are all working overtime to make sure I can keep living, and I am so, so thankful for that. I have a wonderful family who loves me, the best fiancée in the world, and amazing friends. I am doubling my family this fall, I am not allergic to chocolate (I count this as a blessing, as I developed a bunch of food sensitivities as an adult), and I have a roof over my head and never go hungry.

I could go on and on about more beautiful things in my life. Dogs make up a great number of blessings, and sunshine, birds, butterflies, and heat are just a few more. Candlelight, snuggling, soft blankets, The Office, country music, buttercream frosting, gentle massages, writing, decaf coffee, warm memories, Pinterest boards, glitter, loved ones’ sweatshirts, snail mail, flowers, dog tags, and a diamond are just a few of the beautiful blessings life has given me.

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 9.30.44 AM.png

As much as I want to complain today, I am going to allow myself a minute of being annoyed, and then just let it go. My pain isn’t an 8 or a 9 today, and I can handle everything that I have on my plate. I just have to turn my frown upside down and enjoy the simple pleasures until I can go out into the world again and take on the next adventure.

Today’s lesson: The next time you want to punch a wall because you’re frustrated about something, take a few seconds to count your blessings. It helps put life into perspective, and makes you realize it’s an enormous waste of time to be grumpy when you can learn to be content instead.

The Greatest Part About Love in Our Twenties

Something that makes me really, really happy about being in my mid-twenties is all of the love that I see around me. I’ve been to so many weddings this year alone, and there hasn’t been one I haven’t cried at yet. I think my heart is just so filled with joy that it uses tears as an outlet so I won’t explode.

As you can tell from reading just one page of my writing, I am a hopeless romantic. Honestly, even the people I never really knew well in high school getting hitched makes me giddy, as I just feel so excited for what their future holds.

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 11.13.05 PM.png

Love in our twenties doesn’t start and end with weddings and marriage, though. Just because some of my friends are single doesn’t mean I am not equally as happy for the love they have in their lives. I see people who are in love with travel, in love with their job, and in love with sweet puppy dogs. There is love in family reunions, in blossoming relationships, and love for tiny little babies.

We are all in such different stages of life at this time. I predict by the time we’re all in our mid-to-late thirties things will have changed and we’ll all be a little closer to one another again for a short while, however ever since high school has been thrown behind us our lives have all continued to change more and more drastically.

Just because you are on a different page of your story than your friends doesn’t mean your life and experiences aren’t as beautiful or important. Your time will come with a romantic connection, and just because you don’t have your dream job now doesn’t mean there aren’t greater things to look forward to in the future. Keep pushing forward and enjoying the life you were given right now. Not everyone is lucky enough to make it to their twenties. It is hard trying to figure out how to be an adult and adjusting to so many changes, but I think it’s a lot easier when we realize that none of us are truly alone. We all struggle in one way or another, and even if life looks perfect for someone from an outsider’s perspective I promise you they’ve had something that has been a challenge for them. None of us are exempt from pain or suffering, but the great thing about life is that none of us are exempt from love if we welcome it into our life.

Instead of worrying so much about what you don’t have, I challenge you to make a list of the things you are thankful for. On days I am in more pain than usual I make myself create a list of 5 things I am thankful for, and that often creates a snowball effect and I see just how many blessings God has given me.

The 5 Love Languages For Dummies

If you’ve followed this blog even just a little bit you’ll know I really value the 5 different love languages. I think they can be a game-changer in any relationship — romantic or otherwise — and if you know how to use them correctly they can make the world a much brighter place. Loving someone in a way that speaks to them will make your heart warm and fuzzy, and helps people you care about feel like they are important to you.

I know that every love language doesn’t come easily to each person. My heart has always been one that feels strongly, and I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that every love language is really important to me. I feel fluent in all five, and I wanted to share some fun little ideas of different ways to love someone using their love language. This week I am going to be focusing on the 5 different love languages. Please feel free to comment other ideas that my readers can use for each love language, and take a minute to discover what your own love language is by taking this quiz.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 6.57.18 PM.png

The last time I took it my top love language was quality time, followed closely by physical touch. My love language score is really interesting because instead of heavily leaning on one thing, I seem to really enjoy a nice balance of all five love languages. I didn’t have a hard time choosing between the options for the quiz, yet I still had very balanced results.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 6.51.28 PM.png

This is kind of crazy because my entire life has had “gift giving” towards the top — and it’s still one of my favorite ways to show people I love them — but ever since Robert and I started dating things have shifted a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I still love little presents and surprises and really cherish every little thing he gives to me, but I am kind of floored that other ways to love have taken precedence over that. My favorite thing in the world is spending time with him, and if you can add holding hands and a few of the other love languages into a date with him that’s my little taste of heaven.

My heart feels warm and fuzzy when any of these languages are spoken to me, so I’m stoked to write about each of the different LLs this week. Stay tuned, and I would love to hear about what makes you feel loved in the comments!