Since coming to college...

. . . I've learned not to place my happiness on the shoulders of those around me.

It took hours of sleeplessness, tears, and phone calls to my mother, but I have finally realized that putting the entirety of my emotional health into someone else's hands ends up being detrimental to both parties. This habit is one which I developed halfway through high school.  The silver lining? The fact that I developed it at all was because there was a very special person in my life at the time who was willing to carry me through the peaks and troughs of 16, 17, 18, and 19. But, as Chinua Achebe wrote, "things fall apart." During that age of heavy maturing, I realized that my happiness was at the mercy of someone who wasn't me, and why would that ever be something to desire? Now, as long as I have myself, I'm okay - and I'm very thankful to the person who taught me that, however painful it was for both of us.

 

. . . "cystic fibrosis" is no longer abstract.

Since the fifth grade, I've been admitted to the hospital two times a year. That was my routine, and as much as recurring lung infection can "work" for a person, it worked for me. Now, after watching my health decline more significantly and more quickly during these past 11 months than it ever has before, I've come to understand why the median life expectancy of someone as mutated as me is 37-years-old. Never in my life have I been able to imagine myself as an old lady, but I've never been able to imagine myself dying young, either. When I pondered the demise of my existence, it was always fuzzy. At the hand of my freshman year of college, with its loneliness and excitement and independence and busyness, there is a port permanently in my chest. Health insurance companies are knocking on my parents' door every day to collect bills I never used to acquire. I can no longer run up a flight of stairs (though I'm working on it). My health is now at a very tricky stage, and I'm forced to face that if I let myself go, today, I'd plummet. If I ignored my pills and physical therapy, I'd plummet. If I stopped exercising, I'd plummet. If I chose to stop fighting for my life, right now, there is a very big chance that I could begin to die. This is something I'm thinking about for the first time, but now that I am, I'm choosing to win. Now I CAN imagine myself dying young, but that's the only place where that scene will play: in my imagination.

 

. . . sandwiches have replaced cereal as my official "lazy meal."

Milk expires quickly. I don't have time to keep buying milk.

 

. . . I've stopped waiting.

There's something magical about saying "When I grow up . . . " with stars in our eyes. It elicits the idea that the future is a place of more possibility, luck, and motivation. Operating with the future in mind, we - naturally, as humans - become complacent. There's always tomorrow. There's always tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. But what if I don't want to grow up? What if my best friend revealed that my most sunshine-y quality is the fact that I am childlike? If I never grow up, where is my magical future where dreams are possible and motivation floods my blood? Well, I know I'm still (barely) a teenager, but I think it's here. I want to read and write and make videos and help people and spread awareness for cystic fibrosis, and I want to do those things seriously. Professionally. I'm never growing up, so I'm never going to receive a message from the universe that reads "Do it now." Why would I wait until graduation day to begin chasing my passions? To begin helping people? I wouldn't, so I'm not. And let me tell you, there are big, big things on the horizon.