During the winter of 2013, I developed Crohn’s disease, and I was hit with a wave of uncertainty, anxiety, and utter fear; my carefree life as a 13-year-old took a sudden tangent. I was in pain that words could not describe and the color in my face had receded day by day. I had fallen into an extreme lethargic state, a state where the energy in my body drained like the sand in an hourglass. It felt almost as if time had run out, as all growth came to a standstill in the years where you are supposed to blossom and develop the most. However, I was used to this as I had been petite my whole life. My stature had always bothered me, but others thought differently. When once being small was an endearing quality, it now became a stigma; one that I thought I would have to become accustomed to. It was time to confront this problem head on.
I wouldn’t let this everlasting illness control me, so it drove me to find strength and optimism when I lacked it the most. I transferred all my energy from my gloom and turned it to accepting and educating myself about my new disease. A disease that doesn’t just affect me; a disease that doesn’t define me but motivates me to become resilient. With that, I came to terms with my chronic illness by participating in the fight towards a cure. If I could be a beacon of hope for others that have similar experiences, then Crohn’s disease shouldn’t define us but inspiration, resilience, and tenacity can. My own personal connection to this disease, and my new desire to spread awareness, drove me to get involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. My summer internship enabled me to understand the great strides made in research to find a cure.I was immediately motivated to become a captain and lead a community team where I participate in annual walks, which resulted in my team being the top fundraiser. I realized that I could not only be proactive in driving awareness of this disease, but could also inspire my peers to get involved as well.
When stricken by any affliction, I’ve become more tolerant and empathetic for those who share common setbacks. I learned that in actuality, pain and suffering act as great motivators, which drove me to want to become a leader and mentor for others. At the same time, my hope is that others will share my tolerance and compassion with people who might be afflicted with any disability. Due to the fact that my disease has become regulated, I’ve gained a newfound sense of optimism and happiness. As my Crohn’s Disease is now in remission, I realize that while my physical trajectory may be stunted, my emotional trajectory will always continue to grow. It will always be my desire to continue to lead the outreach with people that share a common goal, drive awareness of its mission, and reduce the stigma that may make others feel “small” because your disease isn’t in control, you are.