Who I Am and Who I Want To Be

Last updated: December 2022

I think the concept of self is really interesting. And the idea that how we view ourselves can be quite different from how we portray ourselves to others or how others perceive us to be.

I wonder what I thought of myself as a child before I knew I had sickle cell. I imagine I was pretty sassy, fearless, and stubborn – that’s at least how others described me back then. But I truly have very little recollection of my life, let own my inner thoughts, before sickle cell.

My view as a child

When I was first diagnosed with sickle cell, it shattered my self-view. When I was healthy I didn’t think too much about my new disease, but when I was sick – I was hopeless. I hated everyone, the world, God, my parents for giving me the disease, and myself for having to live with it. But as a child, I was also quick to forget how awful it felt to be sick. That started a pretty vicious cycle of self-loathing and pity that you can imagine puberty only further fueled.

The changes of adolescence

Adolescence, puberty especially, is such a fickle time in life. So many changes all at once. If you can relate or remember how puberty – mainly how watching all your friends change and comparing that to your own changes – made you feel, well then you have an idea of how sickle cell changed my view of myself and everyone around me.

I used to get mad at people for complaining about simple things. I have to remind myself that these things are subjective and vary from person to person. How can you possibly imagine what pain feels like until you experience it? I imagine that’s probably how most of the world feels about Americans and our 21st century problems.

Anyways. I struggled to find myself and figure out who I wanted to be. I tried to separate the future I desired from the reality of having sickle cell.

Another shift in perspective

A series of fortunate events in college changed everything. The parts of me and my personality that my adolescent peers made fun of were now revered and rewarded. And somehow, I weaved my identity to my purpose and knew I was destined to do something great because, not in spite, of my sickle cell.

Acceptance is the key

That’s the first step in any journey really, acceptance. My life changed for the better once I accepted myself and my disease. There are other things I still struggle to accept, i.e. why the world sucks so much, but one step at a time – I remember all the good in the world too and that I get to add to that goodness.

One question I am left with is do we have a say in, do we get to choose, who we are – or is it all part of who we are meant to be. I know there are versions of my past self that were not in line with who I believe I am meant to be, but maybe those versions of me are still part of who I am and will always be.

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