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The Life-Saving Personality Trait I No Longer Believe Is Unattractive

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I remember being a little girl and staring at the sun each time someone told me that looking directly at the sun was bad for your eyes. “You’ll go blind,” they’d say. I wanted to prove them wrong. I could have stared at the sun forever (don’t try this at home, kids), wanting to prove to others that they were wrong and I was right. I could prove that staring at the sun wouldn’t cause you to become blind — or so I hoped. I probably should have known then that I wasn’t like most people. That should have been the foreshadowing that indicated my spirit was different from others. I was a fighter — against everything. I fought to win every battle I encountered, whether it be as small as fighting to prove that I was correct (even if I know that I was wrong) or as intimidating as fighting for my life in the ICU. I face my battles. My defiance has proven to go a long way because here I am, defying the odds.

Defiance isn’t a bad quality to own. In fact, I believe my defiance has saved my life. It’s funny to look back on my childhood and notice how much time I spent fighting to prove other people wrong. My earliest memories go back to all the tantrums I’d throw if I didn’t get my way. I hated to lose. My family and friends used to let me win games of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders because if I didn’t win I’d insist on playing until I was victorious. “Losing won’t kill you.” I can’t tell you how often I heard those words. Whenever I was scolded for being a sore loser, I was always asked why I couldn’t tolerate letting someone else win. I now understand that my fighting spirit wasn’t all for nothing.

When I think of the words “win” and “lose,” I think of a game of football. There is no tie; you win or you lose. I view my battle with illness the same way. Every day that I get up in the morning and get dressed is another day that I refuse to cave to my circumstances. Like playing football, I have tests and challenges that arise with each spiral of events that come my way. Each fight (football game) leads to situations that become a little more (or a lot more) intense with more at stake. Each game feels a little more important than the one before it. To make it to the bowl games, football teams must first do well in the playoffs. If I make a goal to participate in a 5K it may be a good idea to know that I can at least take the dog for a short walk. Thanks to my defiant ways, I often find myself in situations that I would rather not meet.

After my health began to spiral out of control, I had to fight harder and harder to prove myself. I’d overestimate my abilities because I felt I was the only one who believed in me. I didn’t understand why friends would attempt to talk me out of an outrageous idea. Did they really doubt my abilities that strongly? When I look back on past events, I realize people didn’t doubt me as much as I convinced myself they did. Sometimes I just obsessed over stupid ideas. Ideas most “normal” people wouldn’t even consider entertaining, much less a medically fragile individual like myself. When I begin to sense a feeling of doubt, my defiance kicks into full gear and I fight. I fight like my life depends on it, because sometimes it does.

girl attached to wires on machine at hospital

I reached the rank of third-degree black belt in taekwondo as a result of being defiant towards people who said girls couldn’t be successful martial artists. Knowing that people doubted my skill lit a fire inside of me — the desire to prove I was more than capable of doing anything I set my mind to accomplishing. It was the same fire burning inside me that gave me the strength to keep fighting the condition that continued to progress within my body. It’s the fire that saves my life. My defiance has saved my life.

I no longer believe defiance is an unattractive trait to possess. Defiance is a mindset that belongs to warriors. It saves lives, mine included.

Follow this journey on Brynn’s Bubble.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 19, 2016
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