Do they know your story, or just your name?
Recently, when I was least expecting it (but needed it desperately) I was asked the question “Are there people in your life who know YOU and your story, and not just your name?”
That question burrowed it’s way deep into my heart and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. We all have a story. Everyone’s story is so unique and personal. Our stories are full of dozens of chapters, documenting the positive moments, and of course… the inevitable negative moments. “The Dark Times,” as some people might call them, are typically the parts we prefer to leave out when sharing our stories with others. We boast about our happy childhood memories, and the exciting accomplishments and opportunities we have encountered over the years. We paint pretty pictures of our lives, while burying our flaws underneath mountains of color and light. We turn ourselves into the people we think society wants us to be, instead of the people we were meant to be.
This is something we are all guilty of, especially college students like myself. Every day, I see dozens (maybe even hundreds) of people trying so desperately to fit in. We all want to find a place to belong, and often times we feel the need to portray ourselves as a “better” person, or a more “put together” person. We embellish our stories to the point of losing ourselves entirely. People know our names, but they don’t know our hearts. I find myself leaving conversations thinking “I wonder what that person’s real story is,” or “what was it that made that person who they are?”
For me, the part of the story I that I tend to edit out is obviously my medical journey. I leave out the scariest hospital trips, the ugliest side effects of narcotic medications, the realities of depression, and the most terrifying fears associated with such a hard diagnosis. To be completely honest, I’m not sure why I do it. Possibly because I’m worried about being treated differently. I’m afraid of being judged based on what I can and cannot do. Trust me when I say that high school and college kids can be brutal towards people who are different than them. I’ve reached a point where I’ve heard just about every mean comment anyone could come up with. It doesn’t really affect me any more, so why am I so afraid to share my story in its most pure and honest form?
In recent months, I’ve finally come to realize that when looking at my life as a whole, those hardships I mentioned played the biggest role in my story. They don’t define me, by any means. I don’t introduce myself by saying “Hi I’m Ally and I have CRPS,” but I no longer waste my energy on hiding my pain and my emotions.
Illnesses happen. We can’t stop them. Disease doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, or race. I didn’t choose this story-line. I can’t rewrite my story. It’s perfectly flawed, and I will be the first to tell you that I got sick for a reason. I still don’t know what that reason is; I suppose I’ll have to wait for a later chapter in my story to find out, but until then, I think it’s about time I stop trying to edit my story into something it’s not. It’s time for all of us to be honest with ourselves, and with the people in our lives. Our stories are important. We are so much more than just a name.
Do you edit your story? Why? Please comment in the section below.