Following Your Dreams Despite Your Chronic Illness

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If someone told me a year ago that I'd be diagnosed with seven new diagnoses while still following my dreams, I would have laughed in their face.

My chronic illness journey has been rough and I can't imagine it's going to get easier, but it's going to get better.

Despite my chronic illnesses, I am managing to follow my dreams and I want to help you do the same. So, I've put together a few tips to help you get there!

1. Know that it's ok to take your time! 
Whether you're finishing school later than planned or your novel is taking two years instead of one, you need to know that it's ok to take your time. There are going to be days where you don't feel good. There will be days that you don't feel like doing anything and that's ok. Your body is trying to tell you something. It's telling you that you need to take a break and take some time for yourself. Whether you want to or not, do it. This will ensure that you don't get burnt out.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others!
I know I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again! Do not compare yourself to anyone! There are no two people that have walked the same path, there are not two people that have had the exact same lives. In fact, even identical twins are different! There may be similarities, but you really can't compare yourself to anyone else. If you want to compare yourself, start taking note of your progress. Pay attention to where you were and where you are now. Compare your now self to your then self. Other than that, don't compare yourself to anyone!

3. Take the risk!
If you're anything like me, you're worried. You're stressed that your illness is incurable and unpredictable. You can't guarantee whether or not you'll be available on certain dates or able to attend certain events, but you need to get over that. I don't mean to be so blunt but you can't put your future off until you feel better, because believe it or not, you might not feel better. I know that was what I originally thought, "I'll just take classes when I feel better" or "I'll travel the world when I get stronger." Well, now is the time to realize that said time may never arrive. While I hope and pray that it does, for us both, we just can't rely on those wishes. So take the risk. Buy the supplies for your next passion project, sign up for that online course, and get started!

4. Find your tribe!
When I first found my spoonie tribe, I was overcome with emotions. I had no idea that there was a community out there full of people that not only knew what I was going through, but also supported me in ways that others couldn't. It's important that throughout this journey you have an awesome support group! Some friends and family won't understand your illness and some won't understand your strength. Some people may tell you that you can't do something, but that's up to you to decide. You are the one that puts in the time and effort to follow your dreams, so you are the one that gets to decide what those dreams are!

Now, believe me when I say that getting to this point was not easy. It was quite the opposite. When I first realized the seriousness of my illnesses, I got very depressed. I was upset that my body was failing me. I was upset that I would no longer be able to continue photography. But worst of all, I was upset that I was a quitter. I quite school and work. While it was the best decision for me and my body, I still couldn't help but feel bad about it.

However, if these things didn't happen, I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't be following these passions or doing what I love to do. Instead, I would be working a job I hated and spending way less time with my husband. I'd be putting my dreams on hold to guarantee my financial security and I'd be pushing my body harder than I should.

It sounds crazy, but I am grateful for my chronic illnesses. That's why I wrote a piece titled, "Dear Chronic Illness, I Want to Say Thank You."

What dream do you want to work towards? Tell me in the comments!

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