Do you ever feel like a failure? I know I sure do and did even more so when my career ended because of multiple sclerosis, but I’m here to tell you that you are not a failure and that those thoughts are simply not true. Most people who experience their career being stripped away unexpectedly due to a chronic illness start to feel as if they are less of a person. It’s bad enough having to deal with a new life of unexpected struggles, but add to that no longer being able to do the thing we love and have been doing for years…well, it feels like a sock in the gut.
We assume that we are no longer useful or productive because we are no longer doing something of value. Society has taught us to think that way. But who you are as a person is not defined by what you do and definitely not by a diagnosis of MS.
What you do is only one part of who you are, it’s not the full picture. Not even close. Deep down in the very depths of YOU is an identity. That’s where your values, passions, motives and ethics live. That’s where the true you comes to life. Your character is born there and grows. It speaks volumes of the person you are.
If someone were to describe you, they may share some physical traits like the fact that you have freckles or brown hair but when it comes down to it, they will share your heart and tell others of your character. How you selflessly give or rudely approach others. How you care for the unlovely or complain about everything that happens to you in life. How you smile even when life is tough or point fingers at others misfortunes to make yourself feel better. How you love or how you hate.
If your job, your career, was stripped away from you…your character is what lives on. You can always change your profession, but you are pretty much stuck with being you. That’s why it’s so important to know who you are, to understand your passions and to develop your character. That takes work and that’s where we should focus our attention. Life really is what you make it and that’s not always an easy thing to grasp or even to do.
We go to school for years to develop a career, but it seems we should be spending more time learning about ourselves. You are not a title or a job any more than you are a disability or MS. Right now, it’s time to introduce yourself to you. Get to know who you are all over again. Begin developing your character and adjusting the not-so-pleasant things you discover there.
I know this won’t be a popular post, but now is the time to actually become the real you. Don’t let MS be your identity. You are so much more than MS and oh, so much more than a career. As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life’.
Make your life better, sweeter and more meaningful in spite of MS or a lost career. I believe in you!