Monday, 8 June 2015

Young and Mighty

When I was little, I liked to pretend I was a superhero. Even now, I haven't quite given up that game. Granted, I don't tie a sheet around my neck and jump on my bed as often as I once did. Now, I pretend that I have superhuman strength. I love to zoom here and there, do a hundred things at once, and never need to stop, just like a superhero. But I've noticed that it's not just superheros who can do all that: It's young people too.

In an attempt to keep up with my peers, I pretend I'm extremely strong and can fly. They have boundless energy and are constantly in motion. And why wouldn't they? They're in their prime. And supposedly, I am as well. And in order to act it, I pretend I am that strong. And I do well until my friends go home- after that, I make a crash landing. But at least I crash in glory.

This past semester, I really pushed it. The mornings started early in lectures or the library, the afternoons involved at least a half hour walk and assignments, and evenings were spent on adventures with friends, sometimes until very late at night. My friends didn't seem to be bothered at all by their hectic routines (if you can even call it a routine), but I was wrecked. The day my exams were done and I went home, I had a twelve hour sleep and my first week home was pretty painful. But my body cried for help long before I went home.

In April, I began using a cane on particularly rough days. Sometimes it wasn't because of the pain, but because I was so tired that I needed something to lean on. I remember some days my foot cracked and popped every time I took a step. But I kept pushing and making everything seem okay. My friends did become concerned at the point I started using the cane. But I laughed it off, just saying my foot was a bit sore. Any time they tried to give me help, I fought it tooth and nail.

People don't take care of superheros; superheros take care of people. Young people aren't supposed to be taking care of other young people; they're supposed to be taking care of themselves. It's not receiving help that bothers me, rather it's needing the help that bothers me. Somehow I can talk about being sick to my friends- that I'm hurting and scared- but I cannot accept the help they want to give me. Accepting the seat on the bus makes me feel like I am giving up. Having plans changed to allow less walking makes me feel like a bother and like I ruin everything. Even though I feel so blessed and appreciate that I have caring friends, I can't help but to try to reject the help they offer. I'm supposed to be strong, so I should push past the hurt and put on a brave face.

Some may compare a brave face to a superhero's mask because it hides the battles one fights. The mask doesn't make the hero. Rather, the mask is a mark of humility. They don't want to receive praise and adoration for their great deeds, but they want to go back to an ordinary life where all is good. Though a brave face doesn't hide one's identity, it does a great job at hiding the pain you're battling. The brave face makes it look like that battle is nothing, so life doesn't have to change. And though trying to hide one's pain from others may seem humble, it is not. A brave face isn't humble; it's made out of pride.

A healthy person once wrote that when you go to the hospital, you put your pride in a little bag and leave it at the door. When you're leaving, they hand you the little bag back. When you're chronically ill, you have to leave that little bag at the door too. But not always at the hospital; sometimes it's left at home before you leave on bad days, or even at your bed stand. There are going to be days where you need help, and pride doesn't like that.

Humility is an admirable trait- it's what gives anonymous acts of kindness. Humility also admits when they are wrong and apologizes. But it is also knowing when to ask for help and when to accept it. And oddly enough, it can help you keep your pride. No one is invincible and everyone needs help, even superheros. Where would Batman be without Robin? Could the Fantastic Four be as effective if they didn't work together? There's no one who can do it all. Mighty people accept help when they need it, but it doesn't diminish the things they can do alone. Just because the Incredibles needed to help one another to save the day, doesn't mean their abilities aren't impressive on their own.

It's hard to accept the things you can't change. It's hard to accept that I'm a seemingly healthy young person who needs the last seat on the bus and help opening her drink. But if I didn't sit on the bus, I might not have the energy to do something I enjoy later. Needing help doesn't take away that I can do lots more by myself. And needing help doesn't mean I can't give help to others. As much as I'm afraid of depending on my friends, I realize that there are things they depend on me for too.