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If You Live With a Health Condition, Maybe It's Time to Step Into Your 'Villain Era'

There’s been a lot of talk on the internet about the “Villain Era” that people are entering as a result of them feeling taken advantage of, used, abused, and disregarded.

I first saw this term being used early in the year, and I sat with it as it gained popularity on sites such as Tik Tok and Instagram. I thought about the “Villain Era,” what that really means to someone who struggles with health conditions and is typically a second thought in society’s eyes, or othered because of it.

As mentioned, being in your “Villain Era” means living life unapologetically. It means setting boundaries and not folding when people want you to, and putting yourself first and foremost instead of prioritizing the needs and wants of everyone around you. 

If you want to step into your personal health condition related “Villain Era,” here are some ways to go about it.

1. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.

If you decide to give context to your “no,” that’s perfectly fine, but remember you don’t have to. There are so many reasons for us to say “no” that require no justification. If going to busy restaurants causes you to be over-stimulated, or you’re paranoid because of COVID-19, you can just say “no.” It’s OK. “No” is a complete sentence.

2. Stop apologizing for your existence and what it requires.

This means no longer apologizing for the accommodations you may need when you’re out or with friends, or maybe simply just for existing. Your existence is a gift, and the people around you should know it. By continually apologizing for yourself you’re reinforcing any personal feelings you may have about you being a burden. This isn’t to say shitty people won’t make you feel that way at times. It’s not your fault, but your “Villain Era” starts from within, and that means no longer apologizing for the fact that you are alive and you have needs.

3. Get loud. Now.

Speaking of needs, what are they? This is the time to be un-relentlessly ambitious with making sure your needs are met by the people around you, and moving on if they aren’t. If you need a partner who is communicative because of your anxiety and yours isn’t, let them go. If you need a doctor who will listen to you, find them. Be your own biggest advocate when it comes to making sure your needs are met, because if not, who will be?

4. Don’t be afraid to be mentally ill.

Hear me out: how often do we gaslight ourselves because of our mental health conditions when sometimes and often, we actually have a point. Think of it this way:

It’s true, a lot of people tend to say “We love you even though you have a mental health condition” but then when the symptoms show, suddenly they’re singing a different song. I do think we should be mindful of ourselves, but I also think that if we want real genuine love that means not hiding who we are. Do villains hide their traits, even the bad parts? No. I’m saying that if you’re having an anxious day, don’t cover it up with a smile. Admit that you’re anxious. If you’re feeling depressed and you can’t get out of bed, don’t fake a smile for the people around you. Allow yourself to exist as is.

5. Remember that being angry is OK.

Having health conditions means fighting with insurance, multiple procedures, and ultimately living in a world that likes to treat you as if you’re a burden. So many people look at people with health conditions as inspiration cases, or they tell us that we should still be “grateful.” Grateful for what? Disabled people are completely left out of conversations, and establishments, and are then punished for it financially. Instead of living in an inclusive world and society, we live in one where if you have anything “wrong” with you, you now have to either pay more to have a life that works for you or suck it up and mask to the best of your ability. 

Screw that.

Be angry. Get loud. Don’t be grateful for scraps at a table where everyone else is eating lobster. We do deserve more and better, and we shouldn’t have to pretend that we don’t. So yes, being OK is angry, and you’re not a bad person for feeling that way either.

Stepping into your “Villain Era” is a powerful thing, because it means you really are putting yourself first above all the minutia and bullshit of the world. It means you’re living on your own terms and I think you deserve that. It’s good to be bad, and being bad isn’t as bad as you thought.

Getty image by Viktor_Gladkov

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