When I was 17 I was in a college prep school with a 4.0, a fastpitch softball pitcher with the prospect of a free ride to college, at the top of my game, and about to take a family vacation. We went on a Disney cruise for 7 days and it was the most fun of any vacation I’ve ever taken. I returned to school with a tan ready for softball season to kick in full force. But when I got there it was all but empty. “They’re all out sick,” they told me. I didn’t think too much of it. A week later I woke up with a sore throat, within 24 hours I was fully sick, every symptom you could imagine. I went to urgent care, got some Tamiflu and antibiotics and expected to get better, only I didn’t. And I ended up in the hospital in isolation while they tied to cure me. When they couldn’t, they sent me home. “Pretty sure she wont die,” they told my mom. After about two weeks the symptoms were gone. Everything was back to normal and I hoped to wake up for school the next day, only when I awoke I had head pain so intense I couldn’t move. And that was it. My life was gone. I lost my reality, I went to sleep with school, and softball, and friends, and I woke up to a completely different life. One of dark rooms, sunglasses and more medication than I knew existed. When I first got sick I would get on social media, scroll, scroll, scroll, and then cry myself to sleep. I would see all my friends going to dances, winning softball tournaments, graduating high school and it was all too much. I couldn’t handle it, so I crumbled. I crumbled into fear, and bitterness. I got sucked into all that I was missing. Why did they get the life they wanted when I was stuck? Why did my best friend get a full ride to a out of state college while I was shuffling from doctor to doctor? Why did I have to drop out of school when I was the one who loved it? When I was the one with a plan and lofty goals? It wasn’t fair. And I spent a great dear of the first two years of my life letting “Its not fair” become to soundtrack to my brain. I was pulled in deeper and deeper, things seemed more and more unfair. Until eventually I had had enough. I was tired of fighting myself. I was tired of spending my limited energy on this negativity. I had to choose to be happy for them. I had to choose to not let myself grieve the past so frequently and deeply. I had to choose to focus on my future and I had to learn that you have to live life on your own timeline, not anyone elses. My life isn’t the norm. I haven’t done what’s expected of a normal healthy 21 year old and that is okay. I still have a bright future and so do you.