When we think about life, we often see a linear trajectory. Here are some examples of common expectations of life:
- For youth to spend most of their formative years at school
- For adults to be occupied with work
- For seniors to pass away around their nineties
Yet, please let me use COVID-19 to put life into perspective. Here are some examples of uncommon expectations of life:
- To experience life under a pandemic
- To realize that many illnesses are not curable
- To recognize that not every life milestone is achieved at a prescribed age
Today, I will share with you an experience I wish no one has to ever go through. A few weeks ago, a family member dropped in to visit me. It was like any normal weekend until my family member asked, “Could I see a doctor here?” I knew something was wrong. Before he asked to see a doctor, I noticed that he took a couple of breaks during swimming time. His leg looked somewhat swollen. We both thought it might have been because of the 2 hour drive to get here. I asked what he was feeling, and immediately turned the light on to see his leg. I knew once I saw it. How you might be asking? Not because of studies nor my interest in biology, but because I was diagnosed with the silent killer a decade ago—a blood clot.
A blood clot is when a clot happens inside a vein and accumulates to the point of completely blocking a vein or partly affecting the body circulation and the heart’s rhythm for pumping blood everywhere. Also, those clotted blood cells are wasted as they are dead and dysfunctional. So I knew because I had a near-death experience with blood clots early in life. Back then, I had to give myself countless injections and had to frequently visit the hospital. The recovery took two years. All of that and I looked like any other average, healthy person.
Now, imagine you are in my shoes—your family member sought your help with their leg pain, you have had a close to death experience, know exactly what is going on with your family member, and the rush of your experience comes in. What would you do?
Let me ask you the question differently—if you had not had your own near-death experience, would you have been able to recognize your family member’s leg pain and taken steps to help them?
This was me normalizing my uncommon life challenge. Our uncommon experiences in life are what make us who we are. It’s what allows us to develop compassion for one another.
We get to make decisions in life, and when we are faced with uncommon challenges, we get the opportunity to make the most out of it and enter every new challenge with a growth mindset. None of us go through life thinking we’ll be the ones facing uncommon challenges, yet we often do at one point or another. Normalizing the uncommon is all about creating a place for others to belong within your experience and sharing your uncommon experiences together in order to get through them.
The next time you go through an uncommon challenge, just know that you are not the first person to have gone through it. You are not alone, and, as always, I am here for you. If you need peer support, an active listener, a second mind to think with you, I am more than happy to join.