Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chronic Limbo

It is school time again! The month of August has always been exciting with the preparations for the new year. Store shelves are stocked with the latest style trends. Grimy hands rummage through bins containing miscellaneous office supplies. Dorm preparations are made. Class schedules are doled out and frantically compared with friends. This year is different. Excitement is absent.

My education has not been deemed "normal" since the seventh grade. Poor health tends to do that. Half of my middle and high school classes were online. One or two on-campus courses per semester was all I could physically handle. I did hit a good spell, eventually. Between the healthier days, an almost full scholarship, and accommodations (single dorm/key to private bathroom to avoid chemical Mast Cell Disease triggers in communal), I had every intention to accept such an offer from my dream private college. And I did. The plans coordinated flawlessly. But life seldom goes as planned, including schooling and health.

Despite rarely having a typical schooling experience, I never imagined my college plans to be what they currently are. Last week began my last two courses to be completed prior to graduating with my AA degree. And while familiarizing myself with the new classes, I am reminded that my former peers and I are at contrasting seasons in life.

No, this August does not involve moving into my dorm for the second year at my dream school. It does not entail searching for the ideal internship or anxiously awaiting a response to pending job applications. However, this month has brought along those things for many. Living vicariously through those living out the university experience I so desperately yearn for is not easy to accept. Their opportunities are becoming successful, their plans fruitful. I remain stuck in a "what now" limbo, as my health intrudes on my goals.

When questioned about life after obtaining my first degree, I can provide no answers. The uncertainty of my future is, in a sense, embarrassing. My dreams are no longer a matter of personal desires. They are contingent on the state of my health at any given moment. Unlike others my age, I cannot to work towards my future in a similar manner. My focus cannot be on obtaining a degree from a superior institution, establishing a six figure salary career, and one day residing in house surrounded by a white picket fence with the family I may be unable to have. It is impossible to depend on former ambitions with my disease being unpredictable.

So, I continue to plug away at my education in whichever way I am able. Although, the online courses through the small, local school fail to compare to the private college plans that perfectly aligned before my illness progressed.

Chronic illness has put me in a different place in life and I am still learning to be okay with that.