The end of summer...The beginning of everything else...

I think milestones and holidays have been markers for me understanding the passage of time. As I have talked about too much on here, I have a warped sense of time in that I feel like I need to pack so much action into small spaces just because I've never been used to having time. Also, no matter how hard I try, I will always feel like I am struggling to catch up to the rest of the world. However, I think this past year helped me to quell many of my fears because it was the first time in my adult life I knew I was going to be fine so I was free to dream as big as I wanted.

The end of this summer is just another reminder that time will always pass too quickly regardless of me feeling like I'm living every second of it or that I am wasting it away. I got to do a lot of fun things this summer and although I feel like it flew by, I have so many memories that I know I can look back on with a happy heart because they were done without thought as to wondering if I would be healthy enough to carry them out. I got to go to weddings, visit friends in Maryland, make new friends, host my friends here in Philly, and start a new job that has added to my livelihood. I hope every summer from now on can be filled with so much activity.

With the craziness of the hurricane, I have been given an extra week to enjoy myself before grad school starts. Just walking around on campus today and beginning my readings, I am incredibly excited and I feel for the first time in a long time that things are falling into place as a direct result of my decisions. As I delve into reading for school I am realizing even more how much my illness directed me towards my field of study. I still have fears and worries but I know I am ready to face them head on.

In my social life and work life I can see how differently I judge others. I have become extremely opinionated, but open-minded. The fact that I confided in my co-worker about my health so quickly initially boggled my mind but then I realized it made perfect sense with the person I have become. I am ready for it all; to open up, to be challenged, to hurt, to learn. I will never stop learning from Crohn's because it will always be a part of me. It is a huge story of many chapters of my life but as the pages keep turning and I write new memories, it will no longer control the outcome of the decisions I make.

I can't help but think back to what my dad used to tell me all the time when I was sick. He would say, "This will not define your life," and at the time I couldn't imagine a day where it didn't. I understand what he was saying but I have also come to understand that it has very much defined my life exactly opposite of the way he feared it would negatively consume me. What a great feeling to come full-circle and say that aloud. To say that something you never wanted to define you has actually come to add a sense of self-awareness that would never have been possible otherwise; To say that yes, I am okay with Crohn's playing a role in how my life is played out. It is truly a full, exciting feeling and I am happy I have all of you to share it with.


Work, School, Life, and My Ostomy (DUH)

Since starting my new job, life has been hectic to say the least. I have been working an insane amount of hours with little sleep and a lot of socializing in between. I guess I didn't realize how the end of the summer was creeping up and there were so many things I wanted to do before it came to an end. The past two weeks I have been pushing myself hard, but in amazing ways. I know it sounds ridiculous but it feels great to ignore every instinct to refrain from excess in all of my vices yet still somehow remain able to function. For instance, I worked from 7 am until 10 pm tonight after sleeping only two hours last night and the little fatigue I felt all day was nothing in comparison to the physical and mental exhaustion of the most mundane activities performed under the restraints of Crohn's. I know it's silly to think, "Wow I can abuse my body and it doesn't shut down", but the memories and experiences I am having are worth more than anyone can imagine. I am just glad I can finally work hard and play hard. That was never an option for me before.

I've also met some amazing people, although I think I downplay it a lot because I don't want everyone around me to see how invested I am in a relationship. There's always that fear of rejection and I don't think any amount of confidence can change that. Sometimes I wish my ostomy was the first thing someone learned about me just so it could be out in the open and then other times I truly believe that once someone gets to know me there is nothing else they could learn that would change their opinion. I think too often I let myself get to the point where I feel like I've gone too long without talking about it and that somehow that person is going to be upset with me for not discussing it sooner. I need to learn to push past these feelings of self-doubt rather than retreat.

Strangely enough, it was telling one of my co-workers about my ostomy that felt really great to me. I barely know this girl but I know enough to understand she is intelligent and mature, which is why I felt so comfortable talking about it. Long story short the conversation came up because she knew someone with Crohn's who was very ill and thinking about having ostomy surgery. There was no way, at that point, for me to keep my mouth closed and once I talked about it I felt relieved and empowered. I can't really explain why telling a girl I've known for 3 weeks made me feel this way but I am glad I did. I think most of all I enjoy that people are educated a bit on what exactly an ostomy entails and that they change their perception of what I am supposed to look like because I have one. I can't tell you how many times I hear, "I don't understand. You don't even see it. Where is it!?"

Sometimes I am dumbfounded at how much action I can pack into one month and how much my life changes in that short amount of time. In just a week I will be starting graduate school and I have a feeling much more will be evolving soon. I am twenty-seven and I am happy and healthy and I have accomplished so much in the past year that I can not wait to see what is still ahead for me. Somehow even though I am incredibly content, I know there is still something better to come. Stay tuned, friends.