I find myself front of a mirror wearing one of my favorite floral dresses and wearing a tiny bit of makeup. To the average person, I probably look like a 20-year-old embarking on her first day of classes at a new university. Truth is, I am terrified and just want to curl up in my bed and face reality later.
I just came back from a “pause” in my life. Many of us have those, whether it’s trying to cope and find independence again after ending a long-term relationship or a stint in rehab. For me, I’m coming back from being extremely sick after developing a chronic illness.
I was the average overachiever in high school. I participated in more clubs than I had fingers and stayed up doing homework into the early morning. Then came university, where I became sicker and sicker until I had to leave.
Last December, I also found myself standing in front of a mirror. That time, I was in my pajamas crying until I was on the verge of passing out.
“Who am I?”
I didn’t know anymore. And that felt fucking terrible.
The problem with our tendency to attach ourselves to certain identities and labels is that when we can no longer live up to a certain, or all, identities and labels, we can lose a sense of self. This is what exactly happened to me, and I am now trying to pick up the pieces and find myself again.
I likely won’t be the same person I was before. Experiences changes us. Getting sick and having to drop out of my old university changed me. And not for the better, I am afraid.
I glance at the mirror one last time, trying to stop myself from crying and think positively about the future. Before I leave, I say one last thing.
“You got this.”