Timid is an adjective that would’ve been used to describe me throughout my entire life. I just wasn’t born aggressive. When all the other kids were dying to bowl each other over to get to the ball, you’d find me trailing behind the pack, out of the action.
While competing in sports growing up, I’d hear my parents pleading with me on the sidelines to muscle my way in there, or attack the ball. But I lacked aggression; I just didn’t have it in me.
Things are a bit different these days. I find myself channeling not anger, but hunger. I’m hungry to experience all I can, to chase after an opportunity, to get my hands on that ball. I’m hungry for life.
My diagnosis with lupus was a reality check. It was like being made brutally aware that I do have an expiration date. Being forced to come to terms with my mortality lit a fire within me. It meant that I was no longer content with sitting behind the pack — I longed to be in the middle of it. I wanted to be among the action and know that I was a part of everything, never just watching life pass me by.
These days I’m competitive about everything. I am competitive with my lupus, pushing my health and fitness to give myself every chance possible to hit back in every way I can. I am also competitive when it comes to sports — I want that ball just as much as my opponent, and I don’t mind finding myself in a tussle to get it. But best of all, I’m competitive about life.
The harsh truth is that in the life I lead, the odds are stacked against me. But for me, the most important thing of all is perspective. Just because I’ve been handed a chronic illness doesn’t mean that I deserve any less than I did when I was “healthy.”
I may not have all the same options, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have many of the same opportunities — and should they come my way you, you better believe I’ll jump at them.
Chronic illness is a burden. It will try to stop me in countless ways, but I don’t have to let it. Life is never easy, and in my case, it might even be that little bit harder. But why should that stop me? Why should adversity dictate what I deserve? Why should I be content with settling for less?
To look at the person I am now in contrast with whom I was a year ago, there is no comparison. Lupus may be my greatest burden, but there is no doubt in my mind that it has also been my greatest catalyst. I am twice the person I was pre-lupus, and that’s exactly why I won’t find myself striving for any less now that I’m chronically ill. In fact, I’ll strive for more.
I believe that we are but products of our environments, and looking at the people who surround me it’s easy to see how I turned out so fierce and strong. Being born into the Page family, I was destined to be a fighter, and lupus has continued to test that time and time again. Persistence, determination, and excellence aren’t just a way of life, but a family legacy; and it’s for that exact reason that I’ll never settle for anything less than amazing.
I’ll never be guaranteed anything again — not good health or even easy slumber — but that’s not a reason to remain defeated. Though broken, I am far better now than I ever was before, and I owe it to whom I was and whom I have become to know my worth.
I long for certainty in my world of the unknown, and as of late, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can’t find the truth I’ll create my own.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the shadow that broke me. But I’ll keep running head-first through the barriers that lie ahead, because I know what’s behind me can only hinder me if I let it, and only if I continue to look back – that’s my truth.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.