A 19 year old. Someone who does not live a normal life. Someone who takes medication multiple times a day to stay alive, battles constant fatigue and weakness to get out of bed, and someone who has to plan hours ahead of time to do a simple task. When most people hear this description, they probably picture someone who looks sick, skinny or unhealthy. It's easy to get an idea of someone when you don't have a picture to look at. But it's also easy to hide these problems every single day because the description of this person is me.
On the outside, I appear to be healthy like any normal 19 year old. Fit, happy, athletic and in control of my health. But what most people don't know is that my medical conditions are the biggest burdens on my day-to-day life. You can't see that if I stopped taking my medication for 3 days, I would die. You wouldn't know that at the age of 13 years old, I was given only 3 months to live. You wouldn't know that I'm deep in medical debt at the age of only 19 years old. Do you know why? Because none of these things can be seen on the outside since I choose not to show them. Even though you can't see these things, I certainly do still deal with them. Like all of us, I try to hide what is wrong on the outside and paint a better picture of myself to those I just meet. It's human nature. We all do it so it's only fair to assume that everyone else does this in their own way too. Even you.
When you reflect on yourself as a person and ask, "am I perfect?", the answer is always, "no." Nobody is perfect no matter what they may show on the outside. Whether it be first impressions or the way that they look, nobody has a perfect life even if it may appear that way. Social media, for example, paints the best picture of the life that we live. Do you really think that mom is going to share the sleepless nights, the stress, or the hardship of being a mother? Do you really think that person posting selfies all the time is going to share their struggles with body image, the flaws that they see in themselves, or the things that they wish they could change? Of course not. But that's the thing we all have to understand is that no matter what someone may show on the outside, they are still dealing with something on the inside too.
With that being said...here's what I ask:
I want us to stop judging people on the outside and pay more attention to what's within.
I want us to spread love and happiness to those around us instead of hatred and ridicule to those you may not understand.
I want people of all genders, races, and differences to be treated equally because they are still people too.
I want people of all religions to get along because faith, no matter who you do or do not worship, is a wonderful thing.
I want people to stop viewing my generation as lazy because there are lots of us working hard to change the world.
I want those in the medical community to stop treating us like another statistic on a sheet of paper because we deserve more than that.
I want people to know that just because someone appears healthy, it doesn't mean that they are.
Most importantly, I want people to know that there is no one right way to live life because as long as you are happy, that is all that matters.
Next time you meet someone new, approach them with a clean slate, free of judgement or ridicule. Whether they are different than you, identify as a different gender, or even appear to be healthy in every way. Just know that what you see on the outside does not define what is on the inside. With so much judgement and hatred in the world, it's only right that we stop judging and know that everyone else is struggling with something too. True character comes from within so we need to start learning about people for who they are rather than what they look like. I know better than anyone what it feels like to be judged for what people see. I can only ask that we all do our best to avoid making others feel like that too.