Cystic fibrosis is commonly considered a disease by association - credit to Frank the Tank for coining this phrase. Since I have three tattoos on my arms directly related to my experiences with CF and Alyssa, CF gets brought up quickly in conversation. Nearly every adult I meet nowadays has some idea what CF is, albeit a very surface understanding. Oddly enough, me living with CF every day means I'm actually sort of myopic about the reality that me having CF affects my loved ones deeply as well. It wasn't until I saw how devastated my friends were about Alyssa that I fully understood the extent my life and experiences with CF have on them as well.
After every accomplishment ever, the humble recipient usually claims that "they couldn't have done it without the support of my friends and family." As much credit as I owe to my friends and family for supporting me, this article is more than a thank you. It is intended to give them credit where credit is due: supporting me through my experiences means more than just being there for me. It means giving me a reason to live and a reason to continue pursuing my goals and aspirations in this life. It is a testament to the support that the loved ones of people suffering from chronic disease provide for us in the most difficult times.
This is a thank you to the people that have ever read something I've written; to the people that I haven't spoken to in years that tell me Alyssa made an impression on their lives or that they kept up with her story from a distance.
Through the years, as my parents can attest, I have had many different ideas about which career direction I've wanted to take. For a while, I wanted to be a physician. They fully supported this, but with the cautious advice that it could be dangerous for me to pursue medicine. As I approach the two year mark of working in a lab, I'm finally realizing the platform that I have as a scientist and and now as a writer.
As I discussed in yesterday's post, I recognize that I'm being opportunistic regarding my grief with Alyssa. But judging somebody's grief - not saying anybody is judging my grief! - is unfair and dismisses the reality that we all process the world around us, especially when a massive part of our world is gone. Alyssa was one of my best friends and believed unconditionally in me. Her confidence in me has led me to seriously believe in myself and my future as a scientist, writer, and activist. Grief is an intensely personal experience, just as my writing is. It would be wrong to me to not honor my sister through pursuing my aspirations.
My loved ones are why I want to make the world a better place. Their unrelenting support for me through everything has instilled in me a belief that I must use my experiences positively. I don't know how to write about this without being self-aggrandizing, but the blunt truth is that any and all of my successes are both mine as well as anybody that has supported me. I internalize that support more than most people could ever know. Just knowing that people read or listen to what I have to say is humbling, yet fills me with pride because I know I've worked so hard for it. I don't believe it's possible for any of us to do anything completely alone in this life, so this piece goes out to the people that love me, criticize me, lift me up, let me know when I need to be better, and that have believed in me.
I'm only one post into this project and I'm already impressed with the reception. A personal concern for me in writing has been balancing my love for writing with the acknowledgement that writing could be perceived as narcissistic. Anxiety, on my left shoulder, is telling me that people will judge me as a stuck up for wanting to be a writer and having a platform. Depression, on my right shoulder, is telling me that nobody cares what I have to say anyway and I'm a bad person for thinking otherwise. That's the main reason I was hesitant to pursue this. Talking with friends, family, and thinking of Lyss convinced me to pursue this. I received a good deal of nice comments and interest in this project in the last 24 hours so I'm excited to fully run with this.
I wouldn't be here without you and I hope I can always make you all proud.