You want to know something strange?
I’ll tell you anyway.
When I was in grade school I liked getting sick. I was a regular Ferris Bueller, except I didn’t go on crazy adventures. Getting sick was fun. It was my introduction to what posh adults call a “stay-cation”, and I tried to do it (or fake it) pretty regularly.
Being sick meant I could take a break. I got to catch up on undisturbed sleep, I had the house to myself (save for my mother), I didn’t have to go to school and, even better, all of my notes and homework were sent to me to do in the peace of my own home. Last, but certainly not least, I never had to lift a finger. Breakfast? Lunch? Snack-time? Mommy/Daddy dearest took care of all of that for me. The hardest work on sick days was choosing what show or movie to watch. And making sure not to lose the remote.
Ah, yes. The sick days of yesteryear. Well, they were good while they lasted.
Growing up is filled with jarring experiences all around. Experiences that remind you of all the things that are now up to you. One of them being the realization that once you get sick it is up to you, and only you, to make sure you get the care that you need.
How spoiled do I sound, right? But, come on. We’ve all been there.
Last week, I woke up feeling like…well, horse poo. My head felt like it had been stuffed with cotton ball shaped morsels of cement. My nose was running, and it hurt to inhale. My eyes felt like someone had punched both of them in my sleep. My chest hurt. My back felt like it had hosted the Indie 500 the night before. Somehow, my throat had seemingly been lined with shards of glass. I had no appetite, and truthfully I just wanted to go home. Again, we’ve all been there.
Upon waking up that fateful morning, I hoped with all my heart that when my eyes opened, I would be in my bedroom, at my parents’ house. Life isn’t a fairytale. I opened my eyes to my room back at school. As I carried on my daily routine, I felt myself come to a realization pretty quickly. If I were going to beat this sickness before my midterms rolled around, it would be up to nobody but myself. It seems obvious enough, but I had never really been sick around exams. My Ferris Bueller routine was pretty calculated.
This time, as much as I wanted to call a timeout, I couldn’t. There was no time.
Now, instead of waiting around for the home-cooked meal I so desperately craved, I had to snap myself out of it. I reminded myself that my sweet, sweet parents weren’t going to bail me out of my misery and cook anything for me. If I wanted to eat, I had to cook. If I wanted to get better I had to set a reminder and take my medicines every 4-6 hours. If I wanted an A on my exams I’d have to suck it up (like everybody else!!) and keep studying. Keep trucking. There will be sick days, but you’re not a baby anymore. This is what growing up is.
I called my parents and asked for remedies, for advice, and most importantly, told them how much I appreciated them. I can say for a fact that I have taken a lot of their love and affection for granted. They’re my parents they have to take care of me! Right? Well, sure.
But, when they’re no longer around who will be the one to do it? When I have a cold? A fever? A virus? What if I’m just not feeling up to it? What if I decide today is just too nice of a day to do work. Instead I’ll play hooky, and enjoy the oddly nice weather we’re having halfway through winter! These are things you start having to take accountability for when you begin to grow up. I’m nearly 20, and the amount of self-care and personal responsibility that I’ve had to take on in the almost two years since I’ve left home are constant sources of surprise. However, these aren’t the ends of the world!
There will be sick days; you will want to give up. Whether you’re hungover, have a cold or a virus, are fed up with your current situation, etc. you’ve got to keep moving. Take your medicine, check in with yourself, and be your own caregiver. This is what growing up is all about.
You will be fine.