Health and success are not a “one-size-fits-all” concept, but for me it certainly felt like it was for a long time. With social media at the forefront of everything, it was impossible for me not open Instagram, Facebook, or even my news feed to see what was trending in health and success. My generation is obsessed with being disease and antibiotic-free, having six-pack abs, and burning as many calories as possible. My generation is also obsessed with making more money and more money and sacrificing everything for work. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with any of those things. On the contrary, I think it is amazing how hard people work and how much people care about their bodies. But I fit into a small group of people who won't ever live up to the hype of societal health and success and sometimes it really gets to me.
It seemed like with every login to social media, I was hard-pressed to find someone that I could relate to. Honestly, even people within the cystic fibrosis community inadvertently made me feel inadequate. Am I working out enough? Am I eating healthy enough? Am I the only one who missed a morning treatment? There is no room for error on the internet, and sadly, some errors are even glorified. But in real life, mistakes are hard. And for me, some mistakes land me in the hospital.
The first thing I did to ignore societal norms for my health and wellness was to ignore social media. That's right. I deleted every social media handle for years. I went from posting every happy and sad moment to posting nothing. I went from getting my inspiration from people I didn't know, to getting inspiration from myself and from the people around me. More importantly though, the time away from social media allowed me to really hone in on what it meant for me to be healthy and successful. The more time I spent away from those outlets, the deeper the connection I started having with myself.
When I decided to return to social media, my boyfriend said, “Social media wasn't the problem, it was your self-control.” No truer words have been spoken. While the time off allowed me to relearn self-care and self-control, I could have done that without leaving social media completely by reducing the amount of time I spent scrolling, limiting what I posted, and creating boundaries with friends and family.
Today, I make taking my medications, doing my treatments, and managing my cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) my number one priority no matter what. I nourish my body my way -- which sometimes means pizza and sometimes means fruits and vegetables. I exercise my way -- which sometimes means a short walk around the neighborhood with my dog, a slow and steady 10-minute stretch in my living room, or even a 30-minute weightlifting session in the gym.
Health and wellness is taking care of me, my way, the best way that I can, without allowing others to make me feel guilty for it.
Health and wellness is being patient enough to explain cystic fibrosis and its manifestations to my friends that insist on radical diet changes, over-the-top exercise programs, and unregulated nutritional supplements.
Life in general is not linear, it is ever-changing and ever-moving, and the best thing I can do for myself is not only understand that things happen, but to understand that things happen to everyone else, too.
It doesn't happen overnight -- the sense of peace that comes with totally being okay with your journey, the way it is, or the way you make it. Patience is key. Taking every single day for what it is, instead of what you want it to be, is the best attitude to have to start. Once you start figuring that part out, understanding the process of change becomes an easier second step. It took some time, but I finally realized that I will live up to my own version of health and success and that is all that matters. Success, to me, is loving the people around me to the best of my ability and doing that better than I did the day before. Health, to me, is my ability to be proactive in taking care of my body, my mind, and my soul, and to do that however I need to in order to survive while not impeding on the happiness and well-being of others.
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