How a lupus diagnosis taught me to embrace being weird
Being shy and introverted was hard as a young girl; lupus forced a realization
Wonderfully weird: That’s how I’d proudly describe myself.
I’ve always been weird. And much to the dismay of a younger Kristiana, I’ve accepted that I’ll always be weird. By nature, I’m a clumsy and kooky dork. But I’ve reached a point where I’m just too old to care that I’m not “normal” by society’s standards.
OK, let’s be real: I wasn’t ever that kind of normal. I was incredibly introverted and silently struggled with making friends until my last couple years of school. For most of high school, I sensed that few people got me.
On the first day of school when I was 12, I missed the bus and a teacher had to drive me home. The next day, after the final bell, I sprinted straight to the bus stop. Most kids on my route knew one another from primary school. I watched them all laughing and joking, interacting with such ease, while I felt I was on the outside looking in. It was as if they’d all taken a class on being social, and I’d somehow missed it. Every day, I felt myself falling further behind socially.
It wasn’t so much that people didn’t want to get to know me; it was more that I was incredibly quiet. No one knew much about me because even though my inner monologues were constantly running, I hardly let anything out. Half of it was that I just didn’t know how to strike up a conversation, and the other half was that I didn’t want to come across as weird. And the longer I let it go, the harder it became to say that first “Hey!”
Later, as a teen, much of my time was spent trying to work out social parameters. I thought I was finally getting somewhere — and then I was diagnosed with lupus. Suddenly, it wasn’t just that other people didn’t understand me; I didn’t understand myself. I was weird in a new and entirely different way.
But there’s something wonderful about being weird to the point of no return. When there’s no option to run or hide from it, you have to accept it.
I spent so many years listening to but never taking part in conversations, never letting my words leave my head. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have it in me to care whether people thought I was weird.
It wasn’t about not wanting to be heard anymore. If I’d kept quiet this time around, I’d be consumed by the anger and confusion of being handed a lifelong illness that’s largely a medical mystery and by the fear of not knowing what lay ahead. I’d be consumed by an illness I knew almost nothing about.
My options were to speak up and own being weird, or silently and slowly be overwhelmed. And that’s when I hit a turning point in my life. If I had to accept it, I might as well embrace it.
I remember the moment I shared my first blog post about my lupus diagnosis on my Facebook page. I recall the butterflies as I hit “share,” but I also remember something else. It was the same feeling I had when I later sent an inquiry to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy, a place that’s now my second home. It’s like being on the precipice of something life-changing and diving headfirst into the unknown. It’s a sense that you’re doing something right.
I wrote about the struggle, heartache, and stress, sparing no feelings. In the early days, there wasn’t a lot of joy in my writing. What I had to tell the world wasn’t happy or fun or anything close to what you expected to hear from someone in their early 20s. It was weird, but I didn’t care. It was my story and my truth, and I needed people to hear it.
When I shared that overly wordy, badly formatted blog post, I changed my life. I dug into my weirdness, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
The right people will love you in all shades and seasons. I have an incredible group of people in my life who love me wholeheartedly — and are just as weird and wonderful as I am!
Life’s too short. If you need a sign to be authentically weird, this is it!
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.