Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa

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Continuing Education

I’m setting a date to take my GED.

If you aren’t aware, I dis-enrolled from high school back in November and have been navigating what I’m going to do ever since then. After trying online high school, it not going well, and having a the biggest fight I’ve ever had with my parents, I’m finally going to take my GED test like we had planned all along. Since I’m only seventeen I had to get approved from the state, and I was approved yesterday morning so things are starting to get in place!

I’ve been studying a little bit here and there over the last few weeks and I don’t think passing it will be a problem. I’ve always done really well in school, and the GED test is supposed to be pretty easy. I’m still going to continue to study up until my test day because unexpectedly failing would be quite embarrassing.

I feel like this is a step in the right direction, even though it makes me really sad. I never wanted to leave high school, but this is the only way for me to move on and continue my education. I want to start some college courses over the summer, so I need to get my GED and then my license and I’ll be set. I guess hard decisions are part of “becoming an adult,” and I should get used to them. It’s definitely not the end of the world, it’s just a major disappointment. The burden and stigma of being a “high school drop-out” and a GED holder could set me back in my career which makes me nervous.

This is the right decision for me and I feel good about that. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, researching it, and talking about it with my family. Now I just want it to be over with so I can move on.

How was your high school experience?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

School & Sunglasses: Chronically Misunderstood

This one is inspired by Chronically Dannie. She wrote about her high school violating her privacy, and it brought back this memory I had stored away.

The way high school is set up in my town is we have a freshman center and then a high school for 10-12 grade. Our school is huge and everyone couldn’t fit in the main high school, so freshman had their own building. The administration at the freshman center were super uptight, and were know-it-alls, hence this situation.

If you aren’t familiar with what a 504 plan is read this. I had a meeting about my 504 plan and accommodations, it went fine, they couldn’t come up with very many solutions or things to help me, but that wasn’t a new situation at this point. The next week my mom emailed them to follow up on some plans, and the 504 coordinator responded by telling her she had a new idea. She said I was going to be required to wear sunglasses while at school. WTF? I never wear sunglasses inside and when we told her I wasn’t gonna do that she said, “well my kids who have concussions do it and it helps them, so you should do it.”  She was taken back by the idea that I wouldn’t do that.

Wow I had no idea she had such an extensive background in medicine. Thanks Dr. Web-MD! I’ve never had a concussion and sunglasses aren’t gonna help my migraines, plus do I really need to stick out more? I was already “that girl who’s gone all the time,” I didn’t need to add “sunglasses girl” to the mix. I appreciate her trying to do something, but this wasn’t helpful, and the way she came across also didn’t make the situation better. Also, in what world can you make someone wear sunglasses inside? Definitely not the one I live in!

This just in, sunglasses cure migraines. I guess being in pain was completely avoidable all this time. This also wasn’t the last time that someone told me wearing sunglasses would “cure” my migraines. It’s funny now, but I still think it’s really odd. Have you had any weird experiences or “cures” offered to you due to chronic illness?

Lots of Love,

(and absolutely no sunglasses)

Alyssa

 

Miniskirt Misogyny

 

When I was in sixth grade we had a “girls only” assembly to talk about dress code. Before this time it had never been explained to me that the reason we have a dress code is so girls “don’t distract the boys” with our bodies. This infuriated me, and still does. Why is their eduction more important than mine? Why are girls pulled out of class for thirty minutes, because a boy may be distracted by their legs or shoulder blades? More importantly, why is it that boys “can’t control themselves” and girls are shamed for them acting pigs?

I am not a sexual object for just existing as a female. The few times I’ve caught guys staring at me, or making inappropriate comments I’ve felt violated. I don’t exist for your pleasure, and I’m not just something pretty to look at. Now my spit fire attitude and just generally being a lesbian has protecting me from the bulk of the suggestive comments or stares that most girls get. I have a major case of resting bitch face, and overall don’t always look “approachable.” Needless say I haven’t experienced this kind of behavior of men often, but I have had friends who’ve dealt with this a lot.

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Clothing is a form of self-expression. High school is supposed to be a time where you began to “find yourself,” but how can you do that if how you dress or color your hair is constantly being policed. If you find it liberating to wear short skirts and low cut tops, then do it. If you prefer to dress conservatively, then wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable. Showing off your body is not a bad thing, and it doesn’t define you as a person.  A woman is either perceived as a prude if she dresses “too conservatively” or a slut if she shows off her body. But yet society teaches young girls that men want women to show off their bodies. So does she show off her body and get called a slut, or cover up and supposedly get ignored by men? You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

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Wearing a provocative outfit doesn’t mean a girl is “asking for it.” Assault is assault; it doesn’t matter what the victim is wearing. We need to stop blaming the victims, and start examining the subliminal messages our society sends to us about women’s worth. When a girl tells you she’s been molested or raped, your first response shouldn’t be to ask “what were you wearing”, or “were you drinking?” Consent is necessary in all situations, and clothing does not equal consent.

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As much as I which I could still be in high school, I don’t miss the dress code, or the passive aggressive “slut shaming” assemblies. At least I can wear nike shorts and a t-shirt in my own house without being called a whore. I guess chronic illness does have some perks after all. 😉

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

 

Isolated

Chronic illness is isolating.

I have spent the majority of the past five years alone, in a dark room. I no longer attend high school, and I don’t talk to any of my old friends. I’m not saying these things for pity, or sympathy; they are just simple facts.

Chronic pain keeps me from doing or enjoying pretty much everything I used to. I got sick during the transitional time from elementary school to middle school, so making new friends became really hard. Now that I’ve started online school, I don’t see anyone from my old high school or talk to them. The only “new places” I’ve been going are doctors offices – so I don’t think I’m gonna find any new friends there, but hey ya never know.

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After a few months/years friends and family get tired of asking me how I am feeling. They assume I’m gonna better, and forget I’m sick. But I don’t forget; I don’t have that luxury. They get tired of hearing me say “I’m in pain” or feel fatigued. They no longer want to know about my doctors visits or hospital stays. I don’t blame them, the never ending cycle of chronic illness is tiring and generally negative. Friends were the first thing I lost. A few close ones stuck around a couple of years, but now they’re gone too. My immediate family is still here for me, but my extended family never asks how I am anymore. I don’t need/want them to make a big deal about it – but it would be nice if they’d ask about me every once in a while.

Being alone almost all the time makes going out in public hard. I’m sensitive to noise, and the world is one big ball of sound. I never had social anxiety before, but now it’s exhausting being around other people. I feel emotionally drained even being around family. I know I’m gonna have to get over this, because I can’t stay in my room at my parents house for the rest of my life. I want to go to college and get a good job. Both of those things are gonna have to involve being around other people on a daily basis. I can have a negative outlook on life, and when a lot of negative things are going on it makes it 10x more difficult to act cheery and positive. .

If you find chronic illness isolating – you’re not alone. I’m here and probably in my pajamas.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa