This is Day 8 of the Positive 100, a countdown to Rare Disease Day 2014 and an exercise in being positive despite it all.
Today is all about strength. Much like hope, this can be a misinterpreted virtue.
An article shared on LifeHack about the 13 Things Mentally Strong People don’t do is particularly pertinent here. Because most days I avoid all those things. I don’t often feel sorry for myself (#1). I usually don’t waste energy on what I know I cannot change (#4). I don’t resent other people who can do what I cannot (even if I envy them some days) (#9) and I never give up after the first failure (#10) – I am a strong believer in the saying “fall down nine times, stand up ten.”
But some days, the feeling of strength is fleeting.
I spent a lot of time on airplanes this fall. The change in pressure is enough to trigger a flare and my anxiety over someone bumping my hyperactive nerves in my left leg can be a bit much. Standing still in line is one of the hardest things I can do, so I take a ride through the airport so I don’t fall while standing waiting for the TSA. At least by now I am used to the looks I get.
When I was flying to Las Vegas, I waited so long for the wheelchair escort through security that I barely made last call to get on the plane. As I walked down the aisles on the Southwest plane, I was praying I wasn’t going to have to ask someone to give up their window seat, with its protected left side. Every one that looked open had a small child in it that I could only see as I got closer. The flight attendants saw my panic and when I found a seat (they knew I came to the gate with help), not only did the crew help me get situated, so did all the passengers around the seat. Getting off the plane everyone offered help and empathy.
My seat partners asked about the nerve condition and the remote I used to change the settings on my spinal cord stimulator. They remarked on how strong I was to be so young and have to deal with so much.
I thought, I’m not strong. I just am. This is what I have to do to live.
But the more I think about it, it is that being. That refusing to be defined by some crappy nerves and robot parts makes me strong. That choosing to let go of resentment of what I used to be or what I thought I would be makes me strong. That I make my own happiness makes me strong.
Today, I leave you with these words:
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Pooh
Remember to share what makes you strong on Twitter, Instagram and Google+ with the hashtag #100positivedays. Also, you can sign up to be emailed a recap each week of the challenge.