Why I Don't Aspire to 'Be Strong' as Someone With Lupus

People frequently tell me I’m strong because I have lupus, because I lost my mum young and for a number of other reasons, but why is this always the be all and end all?

Strong is lonely. Strong is isolating. Strong is doing every single thing on your own.

Why do we always have this idea that strong is the absolute most that people – especially those who are sick – should aspire to?

There are many things I aspire to be: smart, a good friend, a good mother to my future children…but strong is not something I aspire to be. Strong is not a choice; it’s just who you are when your body fails you.

selfie of a woman with an iv in her arm

I’ve never understood the culture and fetishization of sick and disabled people. That we’re amazing, inspirational and strong just for living our lives. We just play the hand we’ve been dealt. We don’t have to be amazing and inspiring for doing so. Why is everything I do in my daily life me being “strong” or “brave?” I am not brave, I am scared, and labeling me as strong and brave simply allows people to ignore my experiences or gloss over them. It allows people to act like being this sick is normal, and not concerning. Labeling me as strong allows people to not feel guilty for not supporting me. It allows people to step back and say, “But she’s so strong! She can do it all – she doesn’t need my help.”

Strong is isolating.

A version of this post originally appeared on Lupus Trooper.

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