Yesterday was graduation day. I cheered as my niece received her 8th grade promotion and teared watching my nephew receive his high school diploma. So proud of both of them! It was a great and emotional day filled with special moments and wonderful speeches.
The valedictorian at my nephew’s graduation gave a funny and moving speech. She had the entire football stadium laughing with jokes about her mixed heritage – her mother is Mexican and her father is Jewish. She apologized to everyone unable to find a seat because her mother had her entire side of the family seated in the home-side bleachers. Such a witty girl, and by the time she changed the tone of the speech she held everyone’s attention.
Her tone changed as she went on to point out and talk about individual students – not the jocks, or the cheerleaders, or the ASB officers though. Her list was filled with the classmates who went mostly unnoticed over the past four years – students who stayed in the background for one reason or another, yet still made up the unique fabric of her graduating class. I found myself in tears over stories of students I had never met, and who maybe even my nephew had never met. She painted such a lovely picture of how each of them were individuals, and they should embrace who they are, and they should all be proud of the contribution they made to their graduating class. Her message really impressed and inspired me.
I woke up this morning thinking about it, and about how it applies to so much more than just her graduating class. I laid in bed thinking about how many of us with Fibromyalgia and chronic illness are like those students who remain in the background. We struggle to participate. We struggle to reach our full potential. We struggle to contribute to our homes, and our jobs, and our communities. Our lives are a struggle, and yet we still are – each of us – uniquely individual and valuable.
It is hard to honor your contribution when all you can see is what you are no longer able to do. It is hard to embrace who you are when all you can do is miss who you used to be. Chronic illness is hard, but as I once heard a very wise girl say, the fabric of our lives would be completely different if just one “student” made the choice not to complete this journey. Have compassion for yourself. Accept who you are. Embrace your individuality and honor your contribution. I do!