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Why Pride Is My Greatest Ally and Worst Enemy in My Battle With Lupus

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If I had to identify with one of the Seven Deadly Sins I would choose pride without hesitation. I always have been stubbornly proud, and it’s hasn’t always been a hindrance. But there are times, especially now, when I need to be able to put it aside. Unfortunately, I can’t.

I don’t know how I became such a proud individual. Maybe it was watching my parents as I grew up, seeing all that they accomplished and how they took it all in stride.

If things got tough, that was fine, but come hell or high water they would finish what they set out to do in the highest standard and show no sign of hardship. It was as if they were superheroes compared to everyone else; nothing was ever too much, too hard or unable to be accomplished.

I saw this and not only admired it, but embodied it. It is who I am.

No matter how hard something is, how impossible something may seem or how unachieved it is at face value, I’ll find a way not only to do it, but to conquer it as you’ve never seen before.

This is a great trait to have when you’re a student, especially at university. It also served me well when I competed in stand-up paddle surfing and while working as a barista.

But it’s not a great trait to have when you’re chronically ill.

With my family I’m an open book; I can’t hide much from them. They read my face like a detailed synopsis. But to everyone else I have this need to appear nonchalant and invincible, even though I know I’m not.

Sometimes my pride means I won’t speak up when maybe I should. It means I’ll keep pushing even though I know there are consequences. It means that for no real reason I’m playing a game of make-believe that revolves around me pretending I’m not sick a majority of the time.

I live in this paradox where I am accepting of myself. I love who I am and I understand and embrace what life has in store for me. Meanwhile, even though I’m open about my lupus, I can’t let myself appear sick.

I don’t understand why I do it, but I know pride plays a huge part.

Society has ingrained in me these ideas that the young aren’t unwell and that only those who appear to be sick actually are. Regardless of the fact that I am living proof that both these ideas are incorrect, I still struggle coming to terms with my reality.

I’m lucky to have people around me who know and understand what I’m like and where my head is, people who know when to put up a hand to stop me and let me know enough is enough.

Pride will forever be my greatest ally and worst enemy. It will continue to push me forward to achieve the greatness I know I’m destined for, but it also means I don’t know when it’s my time to stop.

I didn’t know something so helpful would one day also become so dangerous. But life is about balance and juggling. I walk a tightrope with lupus and when I throw those balls of pride in the air, it’s up to me whether they will throw me off balance or make my act that much more impressive.

This post originally appeared in Kristiana Page’s column “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” on Lupus News Today.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 13, 2017
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