i have lived most of my life (so far) believing that every person has a cause, a drive, a mission, something to fight for, something to change. everyone has motive for doing the things they do. i thought this was the truth of the human condition.
i think i lived believing this because my cause, my mission, my drive, -well it came along early, on it’s own. i got ‘the call’ to action about three months after my diagnosis and i’m lucky to have seen it so clearly. it is like i had one of those snow plow trucks in front of me, shoving things to the side so i can get through.
now, to be clear, i don’t feel lucky because i WAS diagnosed, but because of my reaction to it. i feel lucky for the way i was taught to react to felt injustices- and in my 11 year old mind, diabetes wasn’t a disease, it was an injustice. diabetes was this weird thing that made my life difficult, and ‘special’. ‘special’ as in needs extra attention, not special as in unique.
i got special treatment at school, during soccer games, at basketball practice, during lunch and PE. and socially, i felt misunderstood. i felt misunderstood because i didn’t even understand what happened to me, how could anyone else? i started being very careful about who i spent time with. i steered clear of belittle-ers and openly ignorant teens with dramatic tendencies. (although i was, admittedly, one of them)
upon diagnosis, i got angry, but my anger turned into intense introspection and later, fuel for change. at first, i tried changing my wardrobe to match, or rather- to showcase, my anger. my outlet for the anger was channeled through my appearance. i guess i felt like if i wore clothes that showed i was ‘dark’ and thus ‘deep’ then i wouldn’t have to verbally express it.
it really took me until high school to start understanding what diabetes was and how it was going to be around forever. my sophomore year, i started exercising my self-proclaimed ‘intrinsic leadership skills.’ i ran for school president and was elected.
i felt powerful for the first time since my diagnosis. and don’t tell, but i walked around like i owned that school. it was the first year it opened and they only opened it to freshman and sophomores, so i was the upper-most-classmen around.
i was working with a group of students to create a legacy. i can’t say if we were successful or not, but at the time, we were burning our names in the grass. my desire to make change developed from the feeling of ‘doing good’ for my school. at 15, i KNEW that i was going to ‘do something.’ i had this friction in me, this potential energy, stirring, and building.
throughout highschool and college, i was fortunate enough to meet some individuals that pushed me to create movement in my ‘self’ and my environment, to critically analyze what was happening around me and how i reacted to and felt about it . i might have gone through this process independent of them, but i also might not have.
they were enablers, constructors, happiness ambasadors, GROWERS. everyone knows someone who makes them feel good. every time you are around that person, you feel happy. they build you up and let you help them grow. together, you bring to life a relationship that is mutually beneficial. like water and the sun. you need both to feed and grow a plant. i’d be fibbing if i said ‘i was around a few of those kinds of people’. my family and most of my friends were/are growers. i’m a lucky bug.
i dont know who i would’ve ended up being, if it weren’t for my diagnosis. But, i do know that right now, i wouldn’t be sitting in this chair at the diabetes hands foundation office after-hours, sharing with you. i may not have learned that you have to be the sun or water to raise a relationship. i may not have sought out a way to take back and exercise my power for change at 15.
i certainly wouldn’t have created beta connect and insulliance. and i may not have decided to pursue a career in health psychology.
i may not have a passion, a drive, a mission. i might be fighting to find something to fight for.
what i’m trying to say is that i used to take the fact that i knew my passion for granted. i’m trying to say i feel grateful to be where i am, to be going where i am going, and to have been where i’ve been.
being diagnosed was a catalyst, and a big one too. it was like a meteor that crashed in my backyard that gave me superpowers after i finally decided to be the sun and take care of it -instead of treating it like an alien out to kill me.
man, i didn’t see this coming. but going through it blind-folded has been a trip, and who doesn’t like trips?