IBD Awareness

Advice for My Younger Self

The other day, I was looking through old photos of myself before my diagnosis. I thought to myself “Wow, look how far I’ve come!” Last week, I wrote a paper for one of my classes on integrity. Part of garnering integrity is determining our core values. I mentioned in my paper that the things I valued back in high school are not the same things I value now. My core values have evolved and in that, I have evolved as well.

Cheerleading picture circa 2015

Growing up, I never personally faced severe adversity. It always seemed like everything was going my way. I never had a huge challenge to overcome until I got to college. I have to admit that high school was the best four years of my life. I know a lot of people may disagree based on their experiences, but my high school experience was a good one. I was super involved in leadership, cheerleading and various clubs, probably where my love for volunteering came about! The only thing I was most worried about in high school was getting people to like me.

Now, I could care less if people like me. After my diagnosis, I became much more intentional with how I spent my time. It’s been an introspective journey – one that I’m not sure I otherwise would have had without my diagnosis. When I became sick, I was genuinely scared. I thought of every worst case scenario – cancer, surgery, death. There was so much uncertainty, and there still is. But I have the reassurance that now I know exactly what goes on in my body and how to treat it. There’s nothing better than being so in-tune with your body that you know exactly what you need. I hope others are able to achieve this level of certainty as well.

If I could give advice to my younger self, I would tell her not to give up when things get tough. Confronting adversity is a difficult experience, but one that will make you stronger on the other side. I never want anyone to think that my life is perfect, because it’s not. I do my best to be transparent with my blog posts in saying that it’s been a rough journey so far. It’s easy to feel that nothing will get better, but it will in its own time. I had to put a lot of trust in God to help me understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe even a new tunnel that wasn’t there before.

I would also tell her to stay strong no matter what. There have been many times where I fall and don’t want to get back up, but something inside always tells me to push through. The reason I have gotten to where I am today is because of my resilience and strength, even when I don’t realize it. I would tell her that she is going to be much braver than she thinks and overcome adversity in ways that are unimaginable.

I think a lot of us would love to give advice to our younger selves. We want to tell ourselves that no matter what we face, everything will be okay. As much as I wish I knew that I would be diagnosed with a chronic illness, part of me also knows that things happen in their own time. If I knew exactly what was going to happen tomorrow, then it would take away the spontaneity of life, something I am working on embracing more. In the words of the Matthew 7:34, “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”

What would you tell your younger self?

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