How To Fill A Love Tank

The more I’ve loved, been loved, and felt broken, the more I’ve learned about the five different love languages and how important they really are. I’ve always known I’m an in-between and don’t have a primary LL, but over the years I’ve noticed that I need at least a pinch of each to make my love tank feel full. The more love that comes in and warms my heart, the more love I feel like I have to give away.

I need words of affirmation to feel like I mean something to other people. Whether it’s telling me that the words on this site matter or that my company is a joy, words of affirmation are currently tied for the lead of what I need coming into my heart. They’re also headlining what I strive to give every day. I’ve always been a big fan of pen and paper, and I write notes for even the newest of friends. I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I don’t write to those I love, and if there is, please come find me to make sure I’m okay.

At our wedding, I decided to write each and every one of my girl friends a letter telling them how much they mean to me and how happy I was they could share that day with me. It took hours of work to finish the pile of notes you see at the top of this picture, but every single one of the girls who came to support us means the world to me, and I wanted to remind them that. I wrote most of my notes well ahead of time — before I even knew what color I wanted our bridesmaid dresses to be, what vendor we’d use for flowers, or what flavor we wanted our cake to be. As with several other things I had imagined, I didn’t actually have the time to put these around at all the tables the day of the wedding, so I’m still slowly handing out the notes, but this was one of the top things I was excited about while planning our wedding.

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Photo Credit: Katie Nesbitt Photography

Physical touch has also been an important part of my life, and having a hand to hold or body to hug is really vital for my heart to feel cared for. It is tied as my most important love language right now. I don’t talk very much about my pain with even my closest friends and family, but I’ve felt like I’ve needed more hugs lately. Something about someone giving you a squeeze makes the world feel like it’s going to be alright, even when you feel like nobody could possibly understand how you feel. For just a moment I forget about anything that is hurting or bothering me and remember how much love I have in my life.

Gift giving used to be my top LL. Even as a kid I loved going to the store to buy presents for birthday parties, Christmas, and even small “just because” gifts with my allowance. I think I learned this language of love from my mom because she was so great at leaving little notes and stuffed animals on my pillow or under the covers for me to find when I crawled into bed at night. This practice carried on into college, which was where I reached far and wide to friends for birthdays and almost every single holiday in an attempt to make people around me feel special and cared for. I spent hours shopping for goody bags to make every Valentine’s Day because I wanted other people to love the holiday as much as I did, even if they were single like I often was. I bought chocolates, cards, nail polish, giant bags of pink and red confetti hearts, and topped the presents off with a mix CD made special for each friend. It’s funny to this day how many people tell me they remember my goofy little playlists. Gift giving is something I find really fun and I think most people feel pretty loved when they get a present that was chosen just for them. It isn’t about the thing, rather it’s the fact that someone spent the time and energy to think about you and do something about it that makes this LL special.

We have two more love languages left. Quality time, and acts of service.

Quality time will always be important to me, but I’ve learned just how necessary the beautiful, magical adjective “quality” is. Time, though a really valuable thing to give someone, is only special if it’s attentive and caring. Electronics make it worlds more difficult to get quality time, and a lot easier to give the excuse that you’ve filled this part of the tank in a friend, family member, or partner. I feel tired a lot and am guilty of plopping down on the couch, only to turn on a repeat episode of Friends or the newest Judge Judy case. Although that time can be spent bonding and laughing over the silliness that ensues, it only fills the “quality time tank” so much. The amount this fills for me lingers around the 15% line, because with a big black box in front of my face, there is only so much I am going to learn and connect with someone else.

Quality time is perhaps the most difficult of the love languages to manage because it does depend heavily on the activity and how present each person is with one another. To one — perhaps with physical touch as the highest of the love languages — snuggling up on the couch and catching a game might be something that really fills up their tank. To another person, however, with words of affirmation being important, talking has to be a larger part of the time spent together to actually be quality enough to fill the tank. Hallmark Christmas movies make me feel more connected to another person than anything else on television because I tend to talk through them and bond over how many errors the producers missed or storylines that don’t make sense.

Finally, acts of service. I tend to write about this love language last, because I understand it the least. This is arguably one of the most practical languages that I absolutely need, but it just doesn’t fill me up the way the other four do. It doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling or make my heart leap from my ribcage the way everything else seems to. I need this love language desperately, though, to keep my health maintained and feeling good. Mentally I notice all of the acts of service that are performed for me every day and I feel thankful for them, but they don’t offer the same powerful effect that a hug, love letter, or tasty dessert brought from my favorite bakery do. It registers to me that this is love, but it doesn’t fill my heart the way other languages do.

I encourage my friends and family to keep learning about their love languages, as well as their partner’s, family’s, and friends’. I talk about them so much on here because I truly believe knowing more about the five love languages is a fantastic base of any relationship, and they can drastically change how loved a person feels. It really is interesting how all of the languages work together and how much easier it is to love someone when you truly understand them. The most complicated thing about relationships is that none of us are the exact same, and we all need different things to make us feel content and secure at the end of the day. People are dynamic and what they need might change as they grow, so loving someone is a never-ending task. Love is the most worthwhile thing in the world, though, and means so much more when you’ve worked to make it more special.


Do you have any book suggestions for me to read? I’m always plugging The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, so it would be great to hear what y’all enjoy too!

Opinions on The Internet

I’m kind of terrified to write about anything that could be remotely considered an opinion these days. The Internet is an amazing, but scary place. You can find information on any given topic and no matter how rare you feel like something about you is, 99% of the time you see person after person who has that in common with you. The computer is a fantastic place to connect people with one another, to rally around each other for causes or through hardships, and feel less alone in this big world. It’s a great way to gain knowledge and learn how to be more empathetic, and can be an incredible tool to help others.

I think most people are good and mean well. We all want to make the world a better place, we just sometimes have different ways of getting there. The biggest thing I see people fight about online is politics, but I’ve seen vicious arguments about something as trivial as whether Chips Ahoy or Oreo cookies are better. I see Republicans and Democrats fighting right and left (No pun intended), name-calling and bashing each other for having different solutions on getting to a similar end goal. Each and every one of them thinks their plan is the best way to bring peace on Earth and end great amounts of suffering in the world — they just disagree on the practical steps it takes to get there. Instead of realizing that they are, in fact, on the same team, people yell at each other and resort to name-calling. Rather than wondering why someone might feel there is a different solution, people remain stubborn and set in their ways, and neglect to open their mind to other ideas. It’s really dangerous when we stop critical thinking and forget how to communicate effectively with others. 

Politics is the easiest example to give, but I clearly am not going to be starting a blog talking about current political events, so why should I feel worried about being attacked on here?

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I am afraid to write about my opinions because people on the Internet can be so darn mean about nothing. I see celebrities bullied on a daily basis just for sharing their lives with their fans, and I see well-intentioned posts by girls in Facebook groups get attacked because someone was offended by the way something was worded. Everyone wants to be a social justice warrior so damn badly that they forget the people they are tearing down are human beings with hearts and feelings too. It’s so ironic. In my mind, these people just have one type of person they feel compassion and empathy toward — those who think the exact same way that they do.

One of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr is,

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Another great one is,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

If you want to talk about tolerance and love, the first step is to be tolerant and loving. This means loving even those who are wrong.

MLK Jr is someone who truly understands what it’s like to be treated poorly, but chooses kindness anyway. He was a pioneer who changed life drastically for people who were not being treated well. He isn’t known for being offensive, rude, or condescending — rather, he is known for being kind and compassionate, even when he had every right not to be. He was the King of peaceful protests, and fought seamlessly for what was right while remaining calm and respectful. I think we could learn a lot from the way he handled conflict and injustice.

The truth of it is, we live in one of the most unforgiving times ever. A tweet from an angsty teenage version of someone ten years ago can completely destroy a career, a “like” on Instagram can lead to death threats, and voicing your opinion can be one of the scariest and bravest things you possibly do, especially if it is unpopular.

If the world keeps moving this way I think we’re going to miss out on so many creative minds. A world like this doesn’t promote creative thinking, rather it screams that you need to fit into a certain mold to be accepted and loved. I believe bullying is one of the worst things human beings are capable of doing, and I think there are so many online bullies who have absolutely no idea that they’re actually the ones who are being cruel. I’d love to see people ask more questions and find out why someone perceives the world differently than they do. Instead of trying to cram ideas down someone’s throat, find out why they believe what they do and have a civil conversation about it. Agreeing to disagree is what makes America such a great nation, and I hate seeing this notion getting flushed down the toilet with the age of the Internet. Great things will start happening when we learn to work with each other, rather than choosing to focus on and fight about our differences.

How To Grow — Or Kill — A Relationship

We only have two posts left about 1 Corinthians 13, and today’s is going to be a little lengthy, so hang in there!

“Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.”

Sadly, there is a lot of evil in the world, some of which isn’t even thought of being that way. We are going to keep this post a little simple, though, and focus on the Bible by remembering the seven deadly sins. Pride, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, wrath, and lust are categorized as the “seven deadly sins.” These are all things that can possibly kill beautiful relationships. I could have a lengthy conversation about how each of these can completely destroy two hearts that are bound together, but today I am going to focus on the three that feel the most prevalent.

We don’t really use the word “gluttony” very often, but according to Dictionary.com it means, “Excessive eating and drinking.” When we think of this word, we think of someone who cannot stop eating, and Bruce in Matilda* comes to mind as someone who eats to the point of being gluttonous. Instead of using the traditional definition of gluttony, however, I want to dig deeper into the reason gluttony is considered one of the seven deadly sins. The key word in the definition is, excess. “Eating and drinking” is in no way a harmful behavior. We need to eat to survive, and a glass of wine can be a great treat at the end of the day. Anything in excess can be incredibly damaging, though, especially to a relationship. The most prominent things I can think of today that people enjoy to excess would be videogames, television, alcohol, or even work. It is heartbreaking just how many girls I see in wedding groups talk about how their future husband won’t pay attention to them because he is too focused on Call of Duty or another game of the sort. I have seen countless people asking for advice on how to get their loved one out of the house and to take care of them half as much as they do their Playstation or Xbox.

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I had to sit and think of excessive habits before writing them on this page, and “work” was an interesting thing to include because many people would argue that if someone works hard, it can’t possibly be a negative attribute. A quote that has always stuck with me is,

“No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time on my business.'” -Arnold Zack

Living in the suburbs outside of Washington, DC has been an interesting way to grow up because so many people here prioritize status, money, and power above relationships. Even in school we were always pushed to take as many high level classes as we could manage without breaking — and then some. We were encouraged to play a sport every single season and maintain extracurriculars that would “help us get into a good college one day.” Even in the younger grades I had several hours of homework after spending all day at school. Never once did my high school mention that spending time with family was important, or that having close friendships would be what remained after school was all done with. Doing something meaningful and productive in the world is so important, however the influence you have in the lives of the individuals you come into contact with on a daily basis is just as important.

Greed is something that is a really obvious detrimental trait in a relationship, as it is linked to selfishness. A lack of contentment is the easiest way to lead an unhappy life, and constantly wanting more for yourself will secure a spot with all the other people who can’t focus on the present and always just want more.

Lust is one of the most obvious relationship-destroyers. When I think of “lust,” I think of Hollywood, and I think of society’s normalization of objectifying women. Movies are filled to the brim with sex, nudity, and innuendos, and whether you like it or not, we are conditioned to think that sex isn’t always a private moment between two people who care about each other. It is something that we see every day in magazines, on television, and on unsuspecting webpages, and it is no longer considered “shocking” when someone poses without any clothing on for millions of people to see. Relationships fall apart every single day because one — or both — parties believe they can do better and find someone new and exciting to pursue. Lust is one of the deadly sins because love cannot be sustained through lust. Love is fed through hearts and souls, and a beautiful body is never going to keep a relationship happy and healthy. If anything, love gives a beautiful new set of lenses to view your partner through, and gives a healthy physical component through knowing what is deep down in someone’s heart.

*Side note: When I was a kid, we saw Matilda in theaters and had to leave because I was terrified of the chokey. In hindsight this was a kind of sick movie, hahaha!


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“Love rejoices in the truth.”

Two of my favorite words in the English language are “love,” and “rejoice.” They both make my heart flutter with joy, and always have something positive attached. Truth is the key word in this sentence about love, though. “The truth” is the direct object of the sentence, which means it is the reason love is rejoicing. Your love is able to be excited because of having an open and honest connection. Trust is the very basic necessity of a strong relationship; without it there is no foundation to build love upon. Something I really love about my relationship now is that I haven’t ever questioned whether or not I am being lied to. I know my significant other is someone who is always going to be upfront and honest with me, and that has given me such an enormous level of security that I want every single person to be with someone that they first and foremost trust. The world is not a perfect place, which means the truth can sometimes hurt or be difficult to deal with, however love becomes much easier when it is centered around truth. True love doesn’t keep secrets and can grow and really flourish with truthfulness.

Our last post will finish Corinthians with,

“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

We will dissect each of these, and talk about why I think it’s important the verse ends with, “always perseveres.” Thank you for keeping up with this little segment, and I can’t wait to finish this chapter about a beautiful favorite wedding Bible verse.

Love Is Kind

The next part of Corinthians that I want to dissect is still in the first sentence, “Love is kind.” Kindness is one of the most powerful actions in the world, and is a virtue that offers one of the greatest opportunities for us to make an enormous impact on the lives of others.

My blogger friend, Tony, wrote this comment on my last post,

“Love is a word with a lot of weight and responsibility. It is patient and kind and those two attributes can be very hard to practice in life.”

I agree with this wholeheartedly. When you tell someone you love them, you are making a promise that you will care for their heart and be the best version of yourself because you believe they deserve that. Loving someone is an action, and actions take work. As unromantic as it sounds, relationships take a lot of conscious effort, compromise, and choosing to prioritize someone else’s needs along with your own every single day. Love isn’t something humans are naturally good at because our instinct is to take care of our own needs and look out for ourselves before caring for someone else.

Kindness isn’t innate and something that we are preprogrammed to do. People can get to a point where it’s the first reaction they have to another person, but I believe you must master patience before getting to kindness. I don’t think that it is an accident that 1 Corinthians lists patience before kindness; it seems like it was actually very intentionally written that way. We are given a million circumstances each week to practice patience. Whether it’s to a stranger at a grocery store, or to a friend, small annoyances and frustrations pop up all the freaking time. By choosing to forgo our own desires to stand up and get angry with someone and deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt, we are choosing to be patient. Kindness is one step further. Choosing kindness means we aren’t just choosing to not act, but we are choosing to act in a way that is generous and giving towards someone else.

For example, if you are walking behind someone who is very slowly pushing a grocery cart to the checkout line you want to get to, being patient is slowly following behind, without huffing and puffing or silently rolling your eyes. Being kind might be making a conversation with the person and asking how they are doing while you are waiting in line, or offering to help push the cart to the front if they look like they are struggling with it. Patience is nice; kindness is beautiful. 

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Kindness isn’t always my go-to action. Sometimes I feel tired and am passive, and just tolerate people. Other times I’m too focused on myself to be kind. Whether I’m in pain or just having an off day, I don’t always take the time and effort to go the extra mile for others. The good thing, though, is that kindness has become a much more natural reaction just from years of practice. I haven’t always been patient, which is the foundation kindness is built upon. Making a conscious effort to care for others and see things from their point of view has made my heart infinitely more kind, and has given me the ability to feel empathy for others. I think if we all just made the time and effort to do the hard work it takes to be patient and kind, it will become more of a norm in our society and the world would be a much happier and healthier place to live in.


How are you kind to others? What advice would you give someone who wants to learn to react with kindness? I would love to hear your advice on this subject, too!

Timeless Life And Love Advice

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

There is a reason this Bible verse is read time and time again at wedding ceremonies. Not only is it incredibly romantic, but it is God’s advice to humans about how we are to love one another. If we could all learn how to love like these four small verses suggest, the world would be an incredibly different place to live in.

I want to dissect 13 Corinthians this week. I have always said this is one of my favorite Bible verses, and I would love to share with you why. Whether or not you are a Christian, these posts will give you a greater sense of who I am, and maybe offer a few tips on how to love those in your own life even harder than ever before.

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Love is patient.

Patience is a virtue.” This is a quote most of us have heard at one time or another, but have you ever worked on creating patience in your own heart? I would say patience is one of the most difficult things human beings can cultivate. Whether you get frustrated about little things like traffic or slow walkers, or are impatient to fill the big things in life like finding the right person to spend the rest of your life with after years of dating around, patience isn’t a value that is just handed to you — you really have to work for it.

I would say I am a super-patient person in many ways, but there are still some areas that could use great improvement. I don’t mind waiting around for a friend who is running late, although traffic annoys me, it doesn’t usually affect my mood, and I am a very good teacher to people who want to learn something new. I am a great listener and would never snap at a friend for telling me the same thing over and over again. A big reason I feel like I have become a lot more patient in the past few years is that I have become a lot more empathetic. Getting sick with POTS has forced me to choose whether I should be patient and gentle with myself while working to get better or be frustrated and angry at the things I cannot control. To me it’s been a lot easier choosing to enjoy the little blessings that come about every day, and learn to deal with the crummy things that come along with a chronic illness without being bitter about them. When people ask me how I’m doing I often find the answer is, “I’m very slowly getting better.” Like, very slowly. I do sometimes feel frustrated with how much work I put into my health and the sometimes microscopic results that come from it, but I also realize that any progress is still good. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Something I really struggle with is being patient with God’s plan for me and not understanding His timeline. I constantly question Him and whether or not He knows what’s best for me. I have so many desires that aren’t being filled, and I just want everything in my life to line up and be great now; I don’t want to have to wait for it. Impatience is definitely manifested differently in each individuals’ lives, but for me it’s just the desire to be a normal twenty-something. I want to be able to run, hike, play volleyball, drive thirty minutes to DC to visit friends, and write for hours on end without any pain. I want my freedom back so badly, and I want it now. I’ve grown so tired of the weekly doctor appointments, stretching and mobility exercises, and redundant work on the recumbent bike. I feel frustrated that despite working out, eating well, and taking care of myself better than most people my age do, I am physically not able to do as much as my peers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered why God doesn’t choose to just heal me — I know He can — and how often I do believe I know what’s best for myself. The only thing I can really gather from this is that God isn’t finished with me yet. He is still working on me and has a greater purpose for me than what I have planned for myself. This is where faith and patience become really important components of my life, and I am working to be better at both every day.

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Today’s lesson: Anger and frustration are two feelings, but that doesn’t mean they have to manifest into an action. I think the beginning stages of working on patience is going to include a lot of inner dialogue with yourself and learning how to think and rationalize before reacting. One of the coolest things about humans is that we do have the ability to think and then act, while most other creatures just follow their heart’s desire without weighing the consequences or repercussions of their actions. Patience isn’t easy, but it sure makes life a whole lot better when you do learn how to integrate it into everyday life.

Everyday People

You know what’s kind of crazy? We interact with broken people on a daily basis. Whether they are trudging through heartbreak or there’s something else they’re dealing with, these blank faces surround us. They’re shopping in grocery stores, standing in line at Starbucks, walking around the mall, and even sleeping in the homes beside our own.

It makes my heart hurt thinking about others in pain. People reach out to me on a regular basis about recent breakups or tricky situations with their significant other, and I always wish there was more that I could do to help than offer a hug, ear to listen, and a handwritten letter reminding them that they are not alone and things always get better.

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We all have different ways of dealing with sadness and loneliness. Some people go out into the world and try to distract themselves with a good time, while others struggle to get out of bed. Just because someone is smiling on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t feel broken on the inside. I have had times in my life where I couldn’t hold everything together, so I rushed to the bathroom to cry. A restroom — whether it’s public or in a home — is a private space that absorbs tears well. There are times where you are surrounded by people but couldn’t feel more alone.

My heart has been content and full for awhile now, but I am often reminded of how brokenness feels through friends and my beautiful readers. I can sense when something is off, and it isn’t difficult to spot emptiness in someone’s eyes. A damaged heart is something that everyone can relate to in some way or another, and I think it’s so important for humans to stick together in every way they can in this world. With things that cannot be controlled like sickness and death, there are already so many difficult things to deal with. Why not stand up for one another and choose to love each other every single day?

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Today’s lesson: Be a light for people in your life. Whether they’re strangers or your very best friends, leave each person better than you found them. Use words to build confidence, companionship, and joy, and realize that you absolutely can make a difference in someone’s life whether or not you’ll ever see them again. Choose to love people each and every day. Love and compassion are absolutely a choice, and they are so easy to freely give to people. Why not try to make the world a better place, one broken heart at a time?

Handicapped? Really?

One thing every single young chronically ill person will tell you about is the incredibly frustrating battle that comes with having an invisible illness. We are constantly trying to regain normalcy in our lives, but also have to roll with the punches through the symptoms our illness brings along for the ride. For example, I can’t do many of my favorite activities anymore — let alone even just be outdoors in crazy heat — however, I don’t like being different and asking for help, even when I need it.

Today I went to my alma mater to run a quick errand. I wasn’t feeling particularly great, but I told myself that it would only take five minutes and to suck it up and get it over with. I mapped everything out in my head and went to my usual parking space. It’s one of two handicapped visitors spaces, both of which are always available. I sat for a minute to prepare for my walk up the hill and grumbled in my head about how I wasn’t up to my heart racing today so to just take it slow.

As I began my miniature hike, my heart began to thud swiftly and hard (for those of you who don’t know, when POTSies even just go from sitting to standing our heart literally beats as fast as someone running a marathon… No wonder I’m always so tired!). I walked slowly and carefully up the hill and focused on each step so I wouldn’t trip — that’s just because I’m Krista and a little bit clumsy — it has nothing to do with POTS.

I smiled at two young police officers when I looked up, and as I passed by them I heard one say to the other, “Handicapped? Really?” with a snicker.

My heart stopped — then went back to racing even faster than before. For a split second I was shocked, then brushed it off as my imagination. I always feel embarrassed when people can tell I’m different, and I hate having any sort of extra attention. This makes me feel like people are staring sometimes, even when they’re not really paying too much attention. I had a gut instinct, though, that I needed to turn around when I got to the top of the hill. I wanted to make sure my car was going to be OK in the visitor’s spot and that I didn’t need a university parking pass to be there. Despite having parked at that spot a hundred times, you can never be too careful at my alma mater.

Sure enough, they were smiling and looking at my bright blue sticker with a little black device.

Great, I thought to myself, now I have to trek back down the hill to see what’s going on. 

I wasn’t in the mood to deal with confrontation, but I know how crazy our school was about ticketing, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have any trouble when I came back from my meeting. Deep down I knew it was because of the way I looked, though, that the officers rushed down to check my credentials. I quickly realized that I hadn’t been imagining things with the officer’s remark, and that if he was gutsy enough to say that while I was right next to him, he might be confrontational when I chatted with him about my disability.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” I asked.

“We’re just making sure your pass matches up with your car,” one of the officers replied with a grin. “We know people often take advantage of these spots.”

“I have my DMV card, hang on,” I replied shortly. I wished I had called him out on making a snide remark earlier, but I honestly didn’t think a trained police officer would have been that loud and unprofessional about being so snarky. At least if you’re thinking that about me, keep it to yourself and your partner, don’t bring me into your little joke.

I didn’t smile as I showed my pass. Not smiling at someone when I’m interacting with them is actually one of the hardest things for me to do, but I felt frustrated that I was having to deal with this when I already wasn’t feeling great.

“Okay, good,” he replied. “Thanks. We just didn’t want you to be using grandma’s parking pass to get a better parking spot,” he said. “You know — so we can protect people like you who really need it,” he corrected himself.

Honestly, this part of the interaction bugged me a little, but I don’t fault people for saying goofy things like that anymore. I understand that it isn’t normal to see a 26-year-old who is disabled but looks healthy, and a lot of people haven’t even really had to interact with someone like me before.

The thing that bothers me about the whole ordeal was the way they went about everything. I completely agree that they should check to make sure I’m actually handicapped. People who use the stickers but don’t need them should absolutely get in trouble. The way they went about it was wrong, though. I shouldn’t feel like I am doing something bad by using a handicapped parking space when I need one, and I should feel comfortable using the resources that help make my life a little more normal. I already feel embarrassed enough when I have to park in one of those spots at Trader Joe’s and make three trips back and forth to carry $20 worth of groceries to my car without hurting myself. I hate that people stare at me to try and figure out why I am in that blue space, and I hate going grocery shopping with my mom and having people think I am a jerk for making her carry everything to the car by herself. I don’t want to feel like the people who are supposed to be protecting me are also going to give me grief about being a weak twentysomething.

I realize that the police officers were just trying to do their job, but I also know enough people in that field to know that there is a lot of sensitivity training so that they can be professional while they are on the job. I would have had absolutely no issues with them checking my pass — even right after I left my car — however, making me feel uncomfortable by being snarky loudly enough for me to hear was completely uncalled for. In hindsight after talking to a few people about it, the officer more than likely wanted me to hear his comment, as he waited until I was 200 feet from my car and right next to him, and thought he was catching me in the act of something I shouldn’t be doing.

I didn’t write about this to shame the police officer or have a pity party for myself. This is just such a perfect example that you never really know what someone is going through unless they tell you. I look fine, and if you stuck me next to a dozen other twentysomethings you would never guess that I was the sick one. I hope this story helps people be more gentle towards other human beings, as you never know what someone else is dealing with.

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Another reason I wanted to write about this to raise awareness about invisible illnesses is because not everyone with a chronic illness is as bold and open about their problems as I am. A few years ago when I first got POTS, my mom had to be my advocate because I couldn’t even stand without getting incredibly sick. People who are going through things like that should not have any extra obstacles that could easily be avoided, so I think it’s important for me to speak up about my experiences in hopes to better the lives of others who are chronically ill and don’t have someone to advocate for them. A good lesson from all of this is to be kind to everyone you meet, and never make assumptions based on the way someone looks. I am going to be writing a letter to the police department so that they can hopefully be better equipped to deal with others who are like me on campus.