You know those days where you wake up, and you somehow miraculously look like you gained ten pounds, and your hair is flat, and every positive physical feature you have has decided to take the day off? You don’t have to answer that. Unless you’re Meryl Streep, (in which case, i’m SO sorry for even asking, your majesty, thank you for gracing my blog with your presence,) you know exactly what i’m talking about. The days where you accidentally turn on your selfie-facing camera instead of your regular one and audibly gasp at that swamp creature staring back at you. Nobody is immune to monster-face days. Nobody. So you’ll all be able to relate to what i’m about to say, auto-immune problems or not. Read on.
The semi- honest among us will admit that we experience monster-face days. The truly honest among us will admit that we have monster-face months. Hell, most of us have had monster-face years. Regardless of the stretch of time, ALL humans (except Meryl,) experience segments of their lives where they feel inadequate, and insecure, and out of control. Whether it was dialing an ex after a particularly lonely viewing of “Titanic,” or crying in the shower (shut up, you’ve all done it,) or staring in the mirror and actually feeling angry at your reflection, we’ve all tasted a little bit of rock bottom. We’ve all been there.
Now as a general pattern one thing i’ve noticed we ALL do (myself very much included,) is pin our unhappiness, and all of our future happiness, on one external thing. I call it “The White Horse Theory.” We revert to Disney princesses waiting for something to rescue us. Weight, money, relationships, college acceptance, health, social acceptance…choose your poison. It’s the waiting game. I can’t feel happy or secure or confident until i get/become *insert goal of choice here.* I don’t mean to be dramatic, but unfortunately, most people are stuck in this “waiting game,” till they die. We promise ourselves that once we lose the weight, we’ll feel all secure, and radiant, and confident. Once we land the promotion, we’ll be validated. Once we find the soul-mate, we’ll feel complete. Once i get *insertname*’s approval, i’ll finally feel like this was all worth something. Someone, someday, is gonna swoop in and make me complete. Something, somehow, is going to make me feel secure. Whether it be the guy (see my post: Fifty Shades of No Thank You,) the girl, the job, the scale- number. We vow to ourselves that once we hit some external goal, life can REALLY start. But until then, we’ll just keep waiting. And feeling insecure. Quietly making ourselves promises, and then waiting some more. And during the entire waiting process, we feel like sad, lonely hermit crabs who do not want to be seen. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that the reason we feel so incomplete, the reason we feel so insecure, is that we haven’t reached that goal yet. And that goal is our ticket to happily ever after. Inevitably, we get stuck in a downward spiral of self-loathing when we don’t immediately accomplish our goals, and it starts all over again.
CUE THE LUPUS MAGIC.
Now lupus is the epitome of monster-face days. Oh yes. Prednisone makes you sweaty, and your hair gets thinner, and some days your eyes are a weird color. Sometimes you’re super bony-skinny, and sometimes your super swollen, and neither extreme feels cute. So obviously post diagnoses, i threw myself into this insecurity whirlpool. “Once i feel healthy, i’ll be myself again. Once my face is less puffy, i’ll feel confident. I’m going to work out, and read studies, and do everything right. One day i’m going to feel like a confident badass again. Until then, i am going to hide in this room so nobody can see me until i have deemed myself flawless enough for the public eye.” So i waited.
Like an insecure 12 year old standing on the corner of the dance floor cause she didn’t want to be called brace-face.
and then i realized something. Something that sounds wildly depressing, but was actually the most freeing thing I’ve ever realized. Achieving goals is much less in our control then we think it is. Sometimes you can give it all you got, you can follow every rule, you can push as hard as you can, and you still won’t get what you were fighting for. Pretty bleak, right? But here’s what that (horribly depressing,) realization lead me to…if i waited until i looked/felt how i wanted to to enjoy life, i was surrendering all of this time i could potentially be using to laugh and hike and connect with people. For all i knew, i’d never be un-puffy again. Was i giving up being happy forever? I realized that my behavioral patterns were akin to that of a high school girl, waiting in my room for the boy to call me so i could feel whole. I was Rapunzel, waiting for prince charming in my ivory tower. I was pinning my entire life on something that i had limited control over.
It’s stupid to wait until you’re the dress size you love to buy the dress you love. It’s stupid to wait until he calls you beautiful to believe it. It’s stupid to wait until you look like Beyonce to act like Beyonce. You have no idea when OR IF those things are going to happen. We waste so much time hating what we are. This isn’t to say throw in the towel on what you’ve been working towards, goals are really important. It’s just that what i’ve learned from being the sicky is you don’t control the results. So i decided that instead of choosing to work towards results, i was going to choose something else. Something harder. I kept the goals, but fighting for them wasn’t so much about actually getting there anymore. It became about learning to enjoy the ride.
You control the journey. I know, journey is a really lame word, but hear me out. Again, this isn’t to say that goals aren’t worth having, they are. Goals are what make us human. But life doesn’t start after you achieve your goals, life is the space in between them. And you can either spend that time waiting, and moping, and torturing yourself because you haven’t hit your target yet, or you can…well…you can be a badass. You can laugh at your failures and let them push you to try again. You can use your weakness to make you relatable. You can let your frustration give you a voice. All that time where you’re waiting and hitting yourself in the head for not being perfect? That’s when life is supposed to be happening. But if we force ourselves to wait until we’ve achieved our goals to start living, to start being confident and loud and OURSELVES, we cheat ourselves out of so much time. We cheat ourselves out of so much happiness. I am an 18 year old, tired, puffy-eyed girl going through steroid-withdrawal. I don’t start school again till September, my gym game is way off, and almost all of my friends are in a different country. I don’t look as adorable as i usually do. I can’t do as much. But this part of the ride is as real as the healthy parts are, and damn it, i am going to enjoy it.