It can feel like all odds are against you sometimes, like that cold you have is stopping you from writing your paper– like you need to be more attentive to your parents at home, your best friend needs more of your time and you’ve got a boyfriend who you fight with for hours every night. Your teachers are trying to fill you from head to toe with facts instead of teaching you and helping you comprehend the facts in front of you. This here, this is life, and life has a knack for making you feel like there are one too many obstacles in your way.
I have struggled since I was young to accomplish the simple things most do every day, to walk and talk at the same time, to get up in the morning and shower, to sleep, to breathe. Life has taken a lot out of me, and it has made school a second thought. My obstacle is cystic fibrosis, a chronic progressive lung disease that has put me in the hospital for ¼ of my time on this earth. School rested patiently on the back burner for weeks at a time when my lungs didn’t want to do their job. Since the day I developed the ability to perceive the world around me, my struggles were rarely a conflict between things I wanted, but things I needed. In high school, I knew I needed to be at school to graduate, and I knew I needed to be in the hospital to survive– this conflict tore me to pieces. However, I did not have a choice– what would my diploma be worth if I were dead? My diploma would mean absolutely nothing, so at the age of 15 I began making choices with the intent to stay alive, instead of to enjoy my life. High school was an afterthought, I’d go to a class or two a day when I was feeling my best, but when I was feeling “normal”, I’d go to a class or two a week, and when it got really bad I wouldn’t go at all for weeks at a time. The kid things that you expect to experience in high school were not on my radar, I didn’t care who cheated on who, I didn’t care what was trending on Twitter, I didn’t care about any of the things my peers did because I was busy with something much grander. The only thing I cared about was reaching one more birthday so that I could say I survived another year.
I am a professional in the art of feeling overwhelmed– that is my thing. I do not know what it is like to wake up without responsibilities. Even on the days where I wake up with the relief of feeling like I don’t have anything to do, I have a few long hours of taking care of my body to commit to. Everything I do is a gargantuan task, and though I can put off that writing assignment, I can’t procrastinate away my physical therapy, or the pile of pills and side effects waiting for me in the morning. These hours of my life that I give away to oiling a machine that doesn’t work, they used to drag me down. When I was much younger, the responsibilities I had to my health felt like a mountain I had to climb each day before I could do a single thing I wanted to. Here’s the thing though– you grow up, and you wise up.
You begin to understand that your bad weeks might feel like a piece of cake for someone else. Your normal could be a breathe of fresh air to someone with a fuller plate, and we all manage to keep on.What you can accomplish has nothing to do with your situation, it is reliant on your will to climb that mountain in the morning no matter how much bigger or smaller it is relative to someone else’s. Everyone’s normal is different, and it is your job to overcome the problems you face.
In college, part of the experience is feeling overwhelmed by the tasks in front of you– but as time goes on, you will learn that the more you overcome, the smaller your roadblocks become, and as a result it becomes easier to achieve things that once seemed so out of reach. My advice is to take a step back, and remember that everything you are facing, someone else has faced before, and they are still going strong.
By Sara De Noyo