How Myasthenia Gravis Changed the Way I Define Success
For as long as I can remember, my definition of success hasn’t wavered much. It didn’t matter if I was playing in a Little League game or preparing for a job interview, success always meant having the most, conquering others, and being the best.
I could argue that my definition of success was a product of my environment. I grew up in a very competitive school district and was in constant competition with every other student. Throughout my childhood, I was told over and over again what a successful life entails: a high-paying job, a nice house, a cool car, and a family. But no one ever told me that success is not a one-directional thing, and that my definition of success could change in an instant.
After being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) and finally accepting how different my life would be, my definition of success changed every day, and almost every hour. In the beginning stages of the disease, before I had read about MG, I considered it a success if all of the food stayed in my mouth while eating. Could I drink water without coughing it up? If so, then I had achieved success.
MG also greatly affected my mental health, so my idea of success wasn’t limited to overcoming only physical challenges. I also considered my state of mind a victory, depending on how dramatic I was acting on a particular day. I considered myself successful If I had the mental strength to get out of bed and interact with other people.
Although I felt good about overcoming these obstacles, I felt unsettled with my new life. Is that all I would be able to achieve? Was that as good as it would get?
It’s taken me a long time to understand that the success is not a concept that never changes. It ebbs and flows every second we are alive. For some, success may mean they scored higher than everyone else on a test. And they would be right in their definition. For others, it might mean they were able to feed themselves without any help. And they also would be correct.
MG has taught me that success means whatever you need it to mean to get out of bed in the morning. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks it is. The only thing that matters is how we each define it and how we work toward it. From the small victories to the large triumphs, we will never define success the same way we did the day before. And isn’t that a much more exciting way to live life? Every day, we can find a new way to win.
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