I go to college. I am a part of a community service club. I volunteer with my school’s therapeutic riding program. I earn A’s and B’s in school. I attend a horseback riding class for an hour twice a week.
From the outside looking in, I seem to have a normal life. I seem like I have it somewhat together. Anyone could assume I haven’t been through much. I appear to be healthy and of a sound mind. I seem to be fine. What people don’t see is what I actually go through. No one would know I have Crohn’s Disease by just looking at me. They could never guess the havoc my first big flare had on my physical and mental health. They don’t get to see all the times this disease got in the way of my life. They don’t know how about the many nights spent crying into my pillow out of frustration, guilt, and sadness.
No one would guess I feel some level of anxiety in any social situations. They couldn’t guess I feel like everyone’s eyes are on me and judging my every move. They don’t know how hard it is for me to hold a conversation. That I’m not quiet because I don’t care or hate people. How much I overthink everything I say or do in public. They don’t know how much courage it takes for me to actually talk.
No one would ever have an idea of how devastated I was during and after my family’s first move. How my heart still breaks a little when I think of having to give up our first dog. They wouldn’t know how many days I cried, wishing we could just move back and act like it never happened. How much I still miss our old house and family friends. How getting kicked out of a Catholic school and held back a year broke my self-esteem.
No one knows how hard I am working on myself. I’m trying to learn how to heal from the trauma I have experienced. How I build my confidence only to have it destroyed by a single word or event. They don’t know how hard I am trying to beat my Crohn’s and Social Anxiety. They don’t see me fighting for life when I’m in a flare. No one knows how hard it is to have a normal life with a chronic illness.
So, I am not your typical twenty-year-old college kid. I have been through a lot in my life and that will never end. Part of it is learning how to deal with the curveballs without immediately breaking down. The hardest part of it all is coping with the fact that this is a lifelong battle.
Let this be a lesson to everyone. No one truly knows what you are going through. You will never know what other people are truly going through. So, be kind, be compassionate, and don’t judge people. You don’t know their life, just as they don’t know yours.