To the People Who Ask What I'm Doing With My Life

To the person who asked me what I’m doing these days,

As a young adult at university age, society expects many things out of me. They expect you to be well on your way to a degree. They expect you to be employed. They expect you to have a serious significant other. They expect you to be either moved out or on your way to moving out. So when it’s time for a family event, I personally always know what questions are going to be thrown my way. Those include “So what are you studying?” or “Do you have a man in your life?” After saying that I’m not studying at the moment, the next question that comes is “Oh, so are you working?” and this is usually when I get a sinking feeling in my stomach and shame washes over me… because the answer is no.

I have spent the last three years battling multiple chronic illnesses. It all started with fatigue that became more debilitating as each day went on. Then came pain, strange neurological episodes, and a long search for a diagnosis. My days did not consist of going to school. My days consisted of hospital visits, doctors appointments, and test after test after test. They consisted of fighting to stay awake, and pushing to do what to healthy people would seem like everyday tasks.

I have looked on longingly at the lives of my friends. I have yearned to be studying something I enjoy, and I have felt envy watching them go out on weekends with the friends they’ve made in their classes or at work. I have watched them blossom and become amazing young adults. I have wished I was them.

I try to remind myself I’m doing my best. I am handling more than I ever thought I could. I am walking better than I was months ago. I am staying awake for hours more than I was last year. I am fighting.

So the answer is yes, I am working. I am working every single day to stay standing. I am fighting every day to keep my spirits up. I am hoping every day to one day have a great career that I love and can handle. I do not have a man in my life. Being sick and stuck in the house a lot, I don’t have many opportunities these days to meet new people, but I know my day will come. The truth is, being chronically ill takes up a lot of time. It may seem like a life of laying around and doing nothing, but that is far from the truth. It’s a full time job and it takes a lot of work. So when I tell you I’m not working or studying you may be thinking, “That’s so sad/lazy that she’s not doing anything with her life.” But that is far from the truth. I do have a job. I’m a fighter.

Follow this journey on The Pincushion Princess.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one phrase you wish people would stop saying about your (or a loved one’s) disability, disease or mental illness? Why? What should they say instead? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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