We are a combination of what we define ourselves as and what the world sees us as. In our world today, young people tend to put a lot more value on crafting a persona the world will fall in love with instead of prioritizing self-worth and acceptance.
However, both sides of my claim hold equal importance. How we define ourselves holds just as much weight as how we present ourselves to the world.
For me, the world always saw me as the person I aspired to be. I was driven, hard-working, talented, athletic, quick-witted. I was the “perfect” student, the “perfect” friend, the “perfect” daughter. I was a role model.
But being “perfect” is not sustainable. Something has to give. For me, it was my health: a “mild” concussion I never healed from, and an ever-growing list of chronic illness symptoms.
And yet I fought to maintain the persona I worked so hard to create. I kept pushing my mind and body harder, faster, farther, and eventually, it couldn’t sustain itself anymore. While the world may still have seen me as the overachiever and perfectionist, I defined myself by injury, pain, fear, and loss.
Over time, I came to see that the way I defined myself was not fact, and the way the world saw me wasn’t entirely true either. I am not defined by the pain I endure or the loss I grieve. They are a valid part of my experience, but I choose to define myself by the gifts they have given me: the grit, the perseverance, the strength.
These characteristics were hidden from the world when I chose to hide my story. The more I go through, the more I feel ready to share my experience. I am ready to show the world the full picture of who I am.
At times, it may make me feel weak to share the more vulnerable parts of myself, but that is just the human in me. We are all scared of being accepted when we show who we truly are. I hope that by sharing my vulnerability, I will encourage others to share their most open, honest selves, and show that we all have a voice to be heard.
I am still driven, hard-working, talented, athletic, and quick-witted. But I am also so much more.
I get back up no matter how many times the world knocks me down.
I am a warrior.
I am learning.
I am strong.
I am chronically courageous.