Scleroderma Has Caused Me to Question My Self-worth
Ever since I was a child, my parents fostered in me a solid work ethic and a refusal to quit. Whether I was playing a musical instrument or competing in a spelling bee, my parents always taught me to never give up. They instilled in me strength to fight adversity. Even if something wasn’t my cup of tea, I learned early on to always finish what I started, no exceptions.
From these traits, I developed a self-worth that was diminished over time, due to scleroderma. For example, when I faced the unimaginable reality that I would have to withdraw from college and wouldn’t obtain my nursing degree because of scleroderma, I was devastated to the core. I felt like a failure.
More than two decades later, that decision is one of the biggest regrets in my life. It makes me feel substandard as a person, despite knowing I wouldn’t have been physically able to finish my schooling.
In some ways, because of that experience, I find myself second-guessing my opinions, ideas, and abilities. I allow my insecurities and other people’s successes to destroy my confidence. At what point do I refuse to allow this disease to take anything else from me?
However I have felt about my lack of education, I have always tried to push forward. I immersed myself in volunteer work, advocacy classes, and public speaking. I took a deep dive into my illness and used my experiences to advance my positions within various organizations.
Yet even with all of the hard work and accomplishments, I still feel inferior at times. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I left college, especially because I frequently work with medical and business professionals, clinicians, and students. In those moments, feelings of inadequacy creep in.
It has become a daily struggle to feel worthy of the positions I hold. I constantly fear that I will let my fellow patients down by failing to live up to the hype I’ve created about myself. It can be crippling to feel inadequate.
But why do I constantly believe I’m not good enough? And how do I overcome those feelings? I’ve worked hard to get to where I am in my career, so should it really matter that I didn’t finish college?
Scleroderma has taken so many things from me. Most are physical, but that doesn’t negate what scleroderma has done to my self-esteem and self-worth.
Nowadays, I lean into the values my parents taught me as a child. I refuse to give up. But change doesn’t happen overnight. When I feel like throwing in the towel, I take a deep breath and remember that not everything beautiful comes in shiny wrapping.
I may not have letters after my name or a college degree, but I do have passion, life experience, a great work ethic, and a willingness to always improve, which are priceless traits. I may be a scleroderma patient, but I am so many other things, too! And that is where I find my self-worth, despite scleroderma.
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.