My senior year, and rocky high school journey, have both come to a close. It is completely surreal to me because even though these years have all been challenging and seemed to go by so slow – it went by in the blink of an eye.
You would think that I would be tremendously happy to have these past four years behind me, but in reality I’m filled with a bitter sweetness as I go over the memories, the trials, the triumphs, and answered prayers. And as I review these last few years, really starting at my “new life” that began on October 23, 2010 when I first collapsed and ultimately learned I had the life-changing often debilitating illness beast called Dysautonomia, I realized I learned 4 key lessons I would not have learned otherwise.
1. Would I change it if I could? If I was told that I could go back and change everything, especially becoming stricken with Dysautonomia, to live the life I had originally imagined – I would refuse the offer. Why? Because despite how difficult this path has been it has been so rewarding in return. The people I have met, especially my fellow hidden (chronically-ill) teens, I would not have met otherwise makes me not even contemplate for a moment to change the last 4 years. Sure, I could do without being a human pincushion and the myriad of very unpredictable painful symptoms of Dysautonomia, but I would never trade having these people come into my life period.
2. Discovering my purpose: Through difficult times, it is what led me to discover there are other hidden teens and young adults like me and this developed a desire to reach out to them. One inspiring idea led to another and the idea for Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance was born. It took a challenging course of four years for everything to fall in its place and for certain prayers to be answered – especially receiving the vital help from volunteers and donors to make MHHA possible. I haven’t always been the most patient in waiting for all my prayers to happen, but when they have, it proved to me that it’s true that God’s timing is perfect.
3. Pushing forward despite any obstacles life may throw my way: Though I have improved physically compared to where I once was, Dysautonomia still has its grip on me revealing to me that I still have much healing to do mentally and emotionally. I am still triumphant in spite of it, and I know that God will help me through my struggles and heal the emotional wounds I bear… and that He has many more great things planned for the future. Besides the occasional tug on my emotions, life is kind of quiet at the moment. Currently, I have been meeting with all of my great business and charity mentors to obtain guidance on how to further expand and improve MHHA, as well as getting ready for community college next month (My goal is to pursue a degree in business so I can better serve my charity.)
4. Despite Dysautonomia being unpredictable: Dream, set goals, but understand it is okay not to have “all the answers”: I have many goals for the next few years, but do not have everything exactly figured out yet….and for me that is okay. I am just going to wait and see what happens and where life will take me. In the mean time, I am going to take every little opportunity and adventure that is presented, find enjoyment in each day, run after my crazy ambitious goals, serve others, and break free of the tight hold that Dysautonomia has kept me in for so long.
With starting college, I am starting a whole new chapter in my life and this illness can no longer contain my spirit that is ready to soar. I am going to go out and LIVE.
Here is a sweet video my mom made in honor of my 18th birthday and graduation featuring many friends of mine I have met through Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance.
Below are some of my pictures throughout my High School journey. The photos by Jen Culotta are a series we did to do “nontraditional” senior photos. I wanted Senior Journey photos and just amazed at her beautiful work. Thank you for following my journey. To learn more about my charity, please visit www.mikshiddenhearts.org.