Back in March 2017, I wrote an essay on my blog, Verbostratis, called Finding Ourselves. In it, I wrote that I feel there are 3 keys to becoming our true selves:
- Figure out where we started
- Receive some opportunities to face fears, challenge ourselves and try new things
- Accept who we are and who we’re becoming
The photo I took this morning reminded me of this evolution. Ideally, over our lives, we emerge out of a frozen, older world into a newer, fresh beauty that is our own. What that “self” is, how long it takes, and what it ends up being are unknown at the start.
Now that I’m editing my guided journal for those with T1Ds, Dear Warriors, and speaking with more people with type 1 diabetes, these steps feel more poignant. I felt the need to review them in light of diabetes and this new book. As I’ve begun introducing the premise of Dear Warriors to others and asking for help by collaborating with me in its creation, I’ve heard similar ideas from others who have been dealing with this condition for a while. They speak of learning patience, persistence, acceptance and empathy. There’s a combination of internal and external things we need.
Figure out where we started
Family stories and traditions came out as I sketched out Dear Warriors. As I mulled ideas over, it became evident to me that each person alive today is fighting something. We’re all warriors, so my writing evolved to include that. Who were/are our teachers? What tendencies did we have at birth? How have we been trained to behave?
2. Receive some opportunities to face fears, challenge ourselves and try new things
Diabetes is scary. I wrote of changing technologies, exercise routines, family dynamics and schedules that can advance us. I’ve added stories of gifts from fellow T1Ds and medical professionals that move us forward or brighten our days. I’ve also written of ignorance and indifference that have harmed along the way. Of ridiculous stumbling blocks. T1D demands connections with others. In truth, I’ve discovered that all humanity benefits from those same connections- and suffers alongside us if they are too few or too erroneous.
3. Accept who we are and who we’re becoming
I’ve shared instances in Dear Warriors that have been uniquely my style, even if they may seem strange to others. I’ve confessed where I fall short medically and in my own eyes. I describe where I feel I’ve grown since the beginning and what I’m still working on. The very act of writing this book is evidence, in my opinion, that I’m willing to reveal secrets to both myself and others. That’s a huge leap for me. It’s definitely felt painfully honest at times, and humbling at others.
The journey is not over yet. I’m still looking forward to seeing this book populated with more images from other Diabetic Warriors that will help fill in the stories. (Please email me your art for review at firstname.lastname@example.org!) I’m also anticipating after publication: seeing how other T1Ds absorb my essays and others’ art, how they respond to them, and how they turn this work into an even more collaborative effort by adding their own lives and thoughts through the journalling spaces I’m providing.
The sketch I’ve including here was in my original essay in 2017. It’s a drawing I did of the crow-tit, a bird that is the basis of a Korean adage that reminds us to be ourselves and to not try to copy someone else. Being our genuine selves. That’s the greatest gift we can have, and the greatest gift we can share with others.