Let’s be deadly honest here, shall we? If you were to pass me on the street, I’m sure you’d give me hardly a second glance, and surely not a second thought. I’m your average young 20-something bouncing around like a buoy in this crazy 21st century of ours. I can manage social media like a maven, wake up every day as if yesterday never happened and look forward to tomorrow simply because I don’t know what it holds.
However, here’s where all my cards go on the table. Ready? On paper, I hardly exist. Really. It’s true. I’m a college-aged woman who holds no driver’s license, has never enrolled in a post-secondary school, has never held a real job in the workforce, and has never filed taxes. I’m right in front of you but to the people who “matter,” I’m transparent and simply not their problem.
I could try to pull this off and own the fact that I’m a walking, talking enigma, but honestly it’s now become less of a unique identity and more of a disabling annoyance. Enigma is literally defined as “A person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.” Don’t tell me this isn’t an accurate description of my circumstances in your eyes.
Now, before you get on your high horse and call me out for complaining or not making the effort to become a “contributing member of society” let me assure you that I’m not here venting as a way to ask for a hand-out. No. Decidedly not. I’m not a victim of this world nor do I want to be perceived as one. I’m here looking not for a hand-out but instead for a leg-up.
I’ve been chronically ill and at times completely disabled by debilitating symptoms since the age of 11. I’m not a victim of this world, but I am a young woman who has lived most of her life without any sense of control over her circumstances. I’ve learned lessons managing my health that most people my age won’t learn for decades to come. I’ve matured and grown up in an alternate universe, one where I learned to be dependent upon the knowledge of doctors, the unconditional support of family and the courage I drew upon to take each new day, each new medication, each new medically-challenged situation as they arose.
Now I find myself teetering on the edge of a precipice. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling healthy enough to take chances, to enroll in higher education and to begin envisioning a future beyond doctor’s appointments and pharmacy visits. I want to learn what it feels like to be dependent on myself, to make an income and have a sense of accomplishment that has absolutely nothing to do with my health or my ability to squeeze more pills into my daily schedule than actual conversations. In short? I want my life to exist on paper. Paper brings with it a sense of permanence, of proof. Maybe it’s proof of life that I’m after. Then again, maybe it’s more that than.
I’m several years behind the friends I graduated high school with but I’m counting on that old axiom of “it’s never too late”. I’m excited. I’m full of ideas, of passions and dreams I wouldn’t let myself set my heart upon during those days I was too sick to care for myself. I want to thrive in this world I’m becoming a functioning part of again!
Back to the precipice: I’m standing up here, vacillating between my health history and my desire to leap and ask questions later. But here’s my dilemma: I’m not well enough to take the “normal” route to a future by getting a job, signing loans, and expecting to have the income to pay them off. I’m only just healthy enough to want that. I’m healthy enough to see the end of the tunnel but unable to make my way out of it quite yet. I’m left standing here asking myself where do I go to get that leg-up I need? Who out there will see my value, ignoring that I have no experience, no financial standing and understand that I don’t have the luxury of assuming I’ll be able-bodied in the future?
Where does that leave me? I’ll tell you. It leaves me in the cracks.
When you can’t leap, you often fall and this time there’s the likelihood that I’ve just fallen right into the cracks. It leaves me looking for a leg-up, a boost, a helping hand, where there truly aren’t many. It leaves me looking for someone who believes that you get back what you give in this world and that those of us who are left in the cracks, who have overcome overwhelming circumstances, deserve the chance to continue to rise above and succeed. I believe that those human beings are out there, simply waiting to be asked. In the meantime, I’m satisfied to remember that the most steadfast of weeds can grow out of the cracks in the pavement.