Today, while I was using the mirror to fix the disaster that is known as my hair, I wondered what happened to the fearless girl I used to be—the one with a carefree attitude and willingness to go on any adventure. Of course, she was also missing her front teeth, and I'm not sure I want to go back to that specific moment, but you know what I mean.
Somewhere on the journey of growing up, she seemed to disappear as her adult teeth grew in, and lopsided pigtails became an issue. I know it is a natural part of growing up, trying on different personas. I also know that naturally, we find our persona and our way in life. These are natural things everyone goes through.
When you have a chronic condition, it throws a whole set of challenges in finding out who you are. Our healthy friends are off sorting out everything with the energy we simply may not have. That's okay; we have other things to deal with daily, so be kind to yourself.
Please know this: you will discover who you are in time.
Forgive yourself for not knowing right away; life with an invisible condition is never straight forward.
Permit yourself to explore who you are when you get beneath those layers you wear. You know, the ones that say you are a student, an employee, a child, a daughter, a son, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a friend, a person with condition X. For example, I am a lupus patient, an adult educator, a friend, and so on, but I am more than that too. I am my interests, my dreams, and my struggles.
It's okay to have fun learning who you are and what your passions are. Having an invisible illness doesn't mean you can't still explore who you are, and like anything worth doing, there will be some bumps along the way, but it is worth it.
You are so much more than your condition, whether you proudly advocate it and share it, or you keep it hidden because that makes things easier.