My whole life I've been different. I suppose we're all different in our own unique way, but for me, my unique outlook on life was so obvious that my peers and acquaintances never hesitated to declare to me the obscure differences between me and the rest of the world. I've always thought I was “weird.” In reality, who isn’t weird? As I've grown into the woman that I am, I've come to realize that at times we are too worried about being "weird" when we should be embracing our unique quality of character.
In high school, I was different because I was "too skinny" because I walked like a "runway model" or because I was "too pretty and that was the only thing I had going for me." I was ridiculed because I was "really awkward." For some reason I always managed to be awfully clumsy. I tripped over everything. I laughed "too much" and I talked "too loud." I got "overly excited" about my passions. I adored the color pink. I sang my way through life's troubles. I wrote everything down that inspired me. I gained a love for God and all of His principles and the way He lovingly guided me through my life. I was my own version of me, and I was harshly ridiculed for that. But I loved me, and I wouldn't want to change for anyone.
Eventually I went onto college. The harsh words of my peers faded with my past, but the words of peers past cut deep into my heart as symptoms and anxieties increased throughout my college experience. Then I got diagnosed. I got sick, and I wasn’t getting better anytime soon. I never thought that one day I would wake up as somebody else. But I did, and it was terrifying. That's when all those words started to cut hard. I had lost the person I once was. I lost the person that people disapproved of because it was “too weird.” I became a different person, but I wasn’t happy with it, and I didn’t want to let go of who I once was.
I increasingly lost weight when I was already too small for my size. My “runway model” walk turned into an exhausted limp. My face became pale and ghostly, my skin broke out in horrible rashes, and my hair thinned out increasingly more every day. My "pretty face" that “was the only thing I had going for me” slowly disappeared as I observed myself in the mirror every day.
My clumsiness and awkward character only increased as my cognitive dysfunction and loss of coordination grew. I spent more time crying, and less time laughing. My loud mouth become quiet and unheard. I stopped the excitement that pierced through my veins whenever I wore the color pink, or mentioned something about the beauty of writing. I stopped singing. I stopped my fervent prayers. I stopped loving and the pain overcame me. The reality of my younger years, was that I was ridiculed for being unique, so when those speculations finally hit me in the form of a disease, I stopped my unique frame of mind and sunk into the average sense of character and the "daily grind" form of life.
Today I’m not the same person I was in high school, or who I was when I first became diagnosed. In some ways, I feel similar to a butterfly newly emerged from its cocoon. Some days, it’s too hard to fly because my wings are too new and fresh, but other days I feel as though I could soar for miles on my new wings that make up my character.
Am I still unique and have I carried some of my old self with me into my new self? I would wholeheartedly say yes. Over time, I’ve developed fears, hopes, dreams, and a love for people and for God that I never before would have imagined. I’ve developed understanding of things that I thought I already understood, but I didn’t. I changed, and I still continue to every day. I still adore the color pink. I’ve gained a new excitement for life and my passions. I started to laugh my way through life again, and my loud personality blossomed into something that I appreciate. I’ve developed talents and abilities I didn’t know I had. I’ve gained wisdom and knowledge that I can only hope to further as I continue through this trial of chronic illness. I flew like a butterfly, even though at first I was flapping like a crow.
Most importantly, I gained a love for my Savior and my God that I never before thought possible. I gained a love for the little things in life, and I gained a faith that is only possible through the power of God and His love for us. I gained understanding of why I had to go through this, and why I must continue to learn. I gained so much from the power of God that my words fail to describe the paradigm shift that I have experienced in the past year of my life. I’ve gained a greater knowledge of self-worth, and the worth given to me by my Heavenly Father who sees my worth as something far greater than the worth of rubies.
I’ve changed so much, one post would not be able to sufficiently describe it. My message to whoever is reading this would be that God puts things in our lives to either bless us, or teach us. God wants you to be unique. My illness makes me incredibly different, and I've learned to appreciate that. Embrace your unique self, and learn to love and see yourself the way that God does. No matter what you are going through, and how close you are to giving up. Don’t. Don’t listen to the desecrating words of the world around you. Listen to the loving words of your Heavenly Father. He will always show you your pathway. And He will always give you comfort. I wish the best for all of you and whatever it is that you may be suffering through. Don’t give up yet. You are not “weird.” You are unique and incredible in the eyes of God. Never forget that, as God never forgets you.