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To the People on the Bus Giving Me Dirty Looks for Sitting Down

Yeah, I know. I’m young, only 20, wearing an army uniform. So why am I taking up a seat on the bus, when I should be respecting my elders? Even people who aren’t “old,” but are older than me, are my elders, and it is disrespectful of me to sit while they stand in the aisle, grabbing on to bars and chairs just to keep their balance.

Yes, I’m a soldier. I’m going to serve my mandatory two years, and I will do it happily. I could have told them exactly how debilitating my symptoms are. But I chose to be recruited anyway.

I have fibromyalgia. And as much as I try to be “OK” and “normal,” I’m not. When I bus to base in the mornings, I’m still asleep, usually unable to keep my eyes open. Not because I’m a teenager, but because I have fibromyalgia. When I take the train home and stay seated while commuters of all ages stand in the aisle, it’s not a choice. I don’t have a choice. I sit because I need to. Because if I had to stand, I wouldn’t; I would collapse.nIt’s not always like this. Some days I feel good, maybe even great, and I stand, gladly giving up my seat for someone who needs it more than I do.

I’m in no place to judge who needs a seat and who doesn’t. After all, things are not always as they seem. And when I sit, I’m not saying I need the seat more than others do. I don’t know how they’re feeling any more than they know how I’m feeling. But if I’m sitting down on the bus, you can be sure as heck I need it.

When people give me dirty looks because I’m not “respecting my elders,” I ask them to please remember that age isn’t everything. That invisible diseases exist, and the people you least suspect can be suffering through each day. I’m not sitting out of disrespect, only out of necessity. Try not to judge the people you don’t know.

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Thinkstock photo by Aryut