It seems as though I am constantly having to remind myself that it is okay to reach out to people and ask for help. I worry about taking up my friends’ time, about them thinking I am overreacting, about turning the focus to me when really I would much rather hear about their lives, their laughter, and their struggles.
I also feel like possibly the luckiest person in the world, because I barely have to reach out. This morning I woke up to several sweet messages wishing me well as I continue fighting a mystery illness and encouraging me even though my body has reached its breaking point with exhaustion.
This morning, one of my classmates in my favorite English course asked me how I was doing. I swerved around in my chair to look her in the eye. The muscles in my neck were too stiff and painful this morning to flip my head around. “Okay,” I said, and before I could ask her the same question she responded.
She asked it with so much authenticity that it would have been a cardinal sin to lie. “Just okay,” I said with a tight smile, and when she inquired further I vaguely admitted that “medical problems” were the underlying issue (this was definitely not the time to be like, “I’m on Day 18 of antibiotics!”). Without missing a beat, she offered all her help and entered her number into my phone. It was 7:55 in the morning, and class had not even started yet, and already I had experienced so much compassion from several different people. Arthritis sucks, and it will always suck. But not many people get to experience so much kindness within 55 minutes of waking up, and not many people get to feel so loved and so supported, and so even though my body is crumbling I feel as though there is nothing to complain about.
|Just including this picture because my sister Hannah is the best, and
because it helps to remember all of the happy, comparatively healthy times.
My favorite phlebotomist declared that he is now a part of my “fan club,” along with my mom who was there with me, and I could not help but think of all the people who are cheering me on, and I went back for labs with a tired soul but a warm heart. I certainly do not deserve any sort of fan club. Every day I am absolutely floored by the kindness of the people around me. I have no idea how I ended up surrounded by so many wonderful friends. It is a privilege to experience so much grace.
Reaching out to people is an important skill to have, and one that I am learning. But right now, I am feeling very grateful to have friends who do not require me to reach out, but instead swarm in with brave intentions and ears to listen and shoulders to cry on. Friends who randomly call and ask, “How has today been?” or “How angry are we at your joints right now?” Friends who bring soup and give long hugs. Friends who include me in their shenanigans and invite me places, reminding me that at the end of the day I am still a college student.
I am better at reaching out now than I was a few years ago, and I have reached out a couple of times recently. But reaching out is exhausting, and my body has no energy. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for all of you who have done the reaching out for me over the past few days. Thank you for reminding me that there are lovely things and lovely people in this world.
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