How Refusing to Define Myself by My Illness Causes Me to Forget My Limitations
I was a lot of things before lupus, and my diagnosis hasn’t changed. Of course, it is undeniable that my life has been altered by chronic illness, but not nearly as much as many might assume. When I think about what I’m capable of, my mind doesn’t go straight to how lupus may limit me. I tend to think of myself as separate from lupus, which has both advantages and disadvantages.
Thinking about what I want from life, I see it in two parts. First, there is the picture of what I want out of my existence, and my mind doesn’t hold back. I want a house of my own, a successful career, a family and a life full of vibrant moments without any trace of regret. But then I have to take the second step and put a “lupus filter” over my visions, watching as a cloud washes over my hopes and dreams, making everything slightly more dull.
One of my greatest problems is not that I don’t push myself, but that sometimes I push myself too hard. I’m ambitious and determined, which are wonderful qualities to have. However, I often unintentionally overlook my limits.
I’m well aware I have limits due to lupus, but it’s the people around me who too often have to remind me of those limitations. It’s not that I consciously make the decision to ignore boundaries, but I forget to take them into account, seeing straight through them.
I don’t define myself by my condition; lupus is merely a small part of me. I see myself as a daughter, sister, friend, student, writer, barista, surfer and so on before even thinking of lupus.
I’ve yet to find the limit; all I know is too little and too much — and neither is an acceptable way to live. I find myself perpetually struggling to find suitable parameters to live within, as I’m scared senseless of wasting any moment of this beautiful thing we call life. But my need to embrace every moment means I often hit the tipping point only to keep going… straight over the cliff.
If I’m asked to take on a bigger work load, or play more quarters for netball, my answer, without a second thought, is automatically “yes!” The problem is I should and need to think more about taking on bigger tasks. It’s not simply a matter of what I want or what I think I’m capable of, but what I realistically have the capacity to achieve.
By refusing to define myself by lupus, I allow myself to reach for otherwise impossible heights, but it also means opening myself up to the inevitable potential of falling. I’m sure there will come a time when I’m able to accurately judge the perfect medium. However, at this point, it still seems pretty far off.
It’s a constant tug-of-war between being courageous enough to take risks and being cautious enough to live without the consequences of my illness. Yet, even though I know what lies in wait for me, I throw myself over the edge anyway. I’d rather dare to try and pay the price knowing I defined myself than sit back and watch life unfold without me.
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Thinkstock photo via Dreya Novak.