People will never cease to surprise me and over the past decade I have marveled at some of the interactions and reactions to posts I have made either privately or publicly.
Simply by reading my blog people have made assumptions or judgements about what sort of person I am and what sort of chronic fighter I am. Some people have remarked that they thought my writing was not inspirational enough, too depressing, too candid, too open, too negative and so and so forth… I personally find it quite interesting and surprising that people can draw any sort of impression of me personally without knowing me on any sort of real level.
It would be quite surprising for people to learn that aside from on my blog and a select few trusted people I do not discuss my illnesses or progress with anyone. There are several reasons for this and chief amongst them is that I have many more aspects to me other than my illnesses and although my body may have changed my mind is constantly thinking and I prefer to spend time discussing ideas and experiences than my ongoing health challenges and pain.
The other factor people seem completely unaware of is that I don’t invest much in what people think about me or who I am as a person based solely on social media. It is my experience that no one is anything like their social media facades thus any criticisms, assumptions, judgements, appraisals and suggestions are all taken with less than a grain of salt.
Joyfully I have made several wonderful connections from social media which I am truly grateful for but it takes time and real discussions in order to get to know someone and there is no easy or quick way in which to get to know someone better.
It is the growing trend that society forms superficial judgements of people based on a picture, a comment, an impression or a post on social media but to me this seems dangerously simplistic and irrational. I prefer to take time to form any sort of meaningful impression of others and it has served me far better in life.
Thus I reject people’s assumptions of me and I have built quite a strong resilience and detachment to people’s comments and actions, especially for those who haven’t even met me!
It always surprised me in the past when people have judged something I have said or done or even misinterpreted something without even knowing me or seeking further clarification. This seems to be a growing trend in society today and so I have learned how to ignore such things. It is a sad reality of today that most people tend to construct a narrative which suits their own agenda or belief system. I wish this were not true.
Even people who have known me in the past can not possibly know who I am today without having spent time with me recently. I find this quite a frustrating and difficult reality but have done my best to accept it regardless. It makes life exceedingly more complicated when people cling to shadows of us that are long gone and superseded.
Lives are changed so much by illnesses and I have found that I have changed so dramatically in the past decade that it is hard even for me to comprehend, let alone someone who knew me previously or have never met me at all!
Gone is the naive, people pleasing, easily hurt, trusting, impulsive and active person I once was. Today I am a far more cautious, careful, resilient, accepting, considered and stoic woman who does my best each day and constantly seeks ways to understand and enjoy life as much as possible. That is now my new focus and personality.
I still try to see the best in people and it is my nature to endeavor to spread kindness and sincerity but I no longer waste these resources. Illnesses has taught me not to waste anything and treat all things as finite, especially time. I think long and hard about what I am willing to waste my time, emotions, care, loyalty, money and health on. It is the burden of many chronic fighters that we must now look at these resources in very different ways.
One prominent feature about my life today and my changed attitude is my ability to ‘move on’ from things and people that will only cause me further pain and suffering. This has been something that I have been forced to do and an essential ability for anyone facing a life with chronic illness. Our bodies can no longer support toxic relationships or make excuses for people who try to strip us of our dignity and happiness. We must learn how to simply move on from them and refocus our efforts and affections. This is not always easy but it is vital to coping.
Today I am amazed by how I can recover from an unkind word, a harsh and unwarranted criticism, an attack on my credibility and character or bounce back from rejection, unkindness or selfishness from strangers, family or friends. In those moments I am faced with a simple choice of whether I want to dwell and suffer from the actions and motives of someone else or embrace the power and dignity I can hold for myself. I choose dignity and peace now.
I recently asked my husband what changes he had noticed and what things remain and I was surprised to learn that he said my spirit, my creativity, my loving nature, my sense of humor, my kindness, my generosity and my intelligence still burns deeply and strong but I have become stronger, careful, cautious, patient and more resilient than he has ever known in a person. I was surprised and appreciative of his assessment as I believe that through all we have been through he knows me better than anyone else in the world.
We can’t possibly know someone from a picture, a comment, an outfit, a meeting, a blog, a social situation or by someone else’s assessment. It takes time to get to know someone. Time, effort, listening, caring and going through many different life experiences to have any sort of knowledge of someone. Words are just simply aren’t enough. We should never let anyone actions, comment or judgements of us ever influence how we feel about ourselves and our future. Furthermore it may take people a long time to get to know us but it can take us a lifetime to truly get to know ourselves.