There are certain things in life we shouldn’t question.
Some of those things are obvious, like the sky is above us and the sun is our star. We don’t debate these things because it’s been etched into our brain as fact – we can know it for ourselves.
Then, there are things we don’t have to question.
They might not be apparent to other people, but we know how vital they are to our own well-being. Sometimes that’s all it takes – being fully aware of what we hold dear and doing everything we can to protect it.
There are also certain things we choose to share with others.
At some point, however, there has to be a line between public and private territory. The question is, where do we draw that line?
These questions came with an incredible amount of responsibility. I put a lot of pressure on myself because my cerebral palsy had become the driving force behind my work – and I welcomed that. I finally understood how to utilize my circumstances as a way to help others, and it felt surreal.
I had made a conscious decision to put my disability on display, which meant putting myself in the public eye. No one else could have made that choice for me. I knew exactly why my Cerebral Palsy had to be a part of my career if I wanted my writing to continue to have an impact. All of this was accompanied by a sense I had arrived at a comfortable, almost peaceful place in my life.
I wasn’t willing to jeopardize the peace. If anything, I wanted to preserve and savor it because it didn’t come easily. I had a feeling it would only become more difficult to keep peace at the center of my life as my career blossomed – and I wanted to be as prepared as I could be.
A few weeks into January 2014, my first article for The Huffington Post was published. Chills ran down my spine as my name, followed by my own words, were printed in a major publication. Comments and support began pouring in from my family, friends, and faithful readers. I knew my grandparents were looking down on me from afar, with the biggest smiles on their faces. With this joy, however, came a very genuine reminder: I needed to make another important decision.
Outside of my work, I was hesitant to share certain things with the public. I was trying to balance the business of life – being a good daughter, sister, and niece while still being a good writer. I had to choose what I wanted the world to know, and what I wanted to keep to myself. It seemed like an easy thing to do, but I quickly found out that could not have been farther from the truth.
Many of my friends had fallen on hard times, trying to fight battles they didn’t ask to be in and heal old wounds, as well as new ones. These were the same friends who I had met in college. When I met them, I had no right to claim life was unfair or my circumstances were too heavy. I still didn’t have that right, even if it was now years after the fact.
Had I not stopped and listened to their stories, I might have never learned about the depth of the human soul. Nor would I have known what true inspiration is. I made a promise to myself to make every effort to be there for them, and be their safety net like they’ve been for me countless times.
There was a long stretch of days where I wanted to burst into tears because I was at a painful crossroad. I didn’t want to hurt my friends by sharing what was happening, but I was in agony by remaining silent. I knew I couldn’t break down because I still had responsibilities – to my family, my employers and most importantly, my friends.
They were going through situations I couldn’t even fathom. Not only did I make a promise to listen, but I also made a promise to keep my integrity intact. I had to choose between my personal life and losing very close, dear friends. It got to the point where the right choice was so obvious I couldn’t ignore it. Nor did I want to.
At this very moment, I decided to draw a line personally and professionally. It was a line I never planned to draw. It became one, however, I needed to draw, right then and there. I didn’t want to be the reason for anyone’s pain. I wanted, more than anything else, to stay in the public eye so I could continue to serve a purpose.
Some things must be set aside for you – and only you. It might not be easy. Chances are, it won’t even be what everyone around you wants. You have to take care of yourself at some point. If you don’t, how can you expect to do the same for anyone else when they need you the most?
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