Understanding Backwards

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”
– Soren Kiericegaard.

This quote carries deep meaning to me as I start my junior year at the University of South Carolina. During my senior year of high school, I wanted to go to FIDM in California and study fashion… until I realized that would actually require me to live across the country from my friends and family. So, I decided I would go somewhere in the South and study fashion. Of course, plans changed and, after following a boy, I found myself decorating my dorm room in Columbia, South Carolina as a pre-business major. Freshmen year I decided I would study marketing and hopefully set up a career in the exhilarating field of sports marketing. Sophomore year continued about the same – still sports marketing and I officially declared my minor as advertising. However, after networking, I realized that I desired a life outside of my job and the professional sports industry certainly was not going to allow this. Lucky for me, the field of marketing is vast!

Carolina Cup my freshmen year at USC

At the time I started writing this blog, I was unsure of what direction in marketing I wanted to go. The more I wrote about my spine, the more I realized how my journey and experience growing up with scoliosis could have been so very different if my family would have just been presented with more information. Also, my personal battle with the embarrassment and low self-esteem due to scoliosis could have been completely avoided. After the feedback I have received from my friends and family who want me to continue to share my story, I have decided that I want to take it one step farther! When I close my eyes and picture my future- I would love for it to include a career in nonprofit marketing advocating bracing for children with scoliosis. I believe that my zest for this topic, as well as my personal story, would provide a rewarding and fulfilling career. While my love for fashion has quickly dissipated (don’t get me wrong – I still love some “retail therapy”), my zeal for spreading awareness about scoliosis has always been a part of me and I do not foresee that changing. I am extremely excited to say that I have had so many people contact me after reading my blog. Like I said before, this blog is for me and my therapy, but when I receive an email from someone saying they can relate to my story – wow! I cannot even describe how happy that makes me.

Another task on my Bucket List is to plan a race for scoliosis awareness. After tirelessly searching the Internet for races benefiting scoliosis, and not finding a single one, a spark within me has been lit. In my opinion, which may be biased, I do not believe there is enough education about scoliosis. I know for a fact that children, especially in middle school when scanning begins, think it is an embarrassing deformity that will cause them to be shunned by their classmates.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a sister of Alpha Chi Omega. One perk of being in a sorority is having weekly meals (paid for by mom and dad!) in the company of your sisters. You may think a bunch of sorority girls would have pointless conversations – don’t get me wrong, we have discussed everything from the immaturity of frat boys to our hatred of lipstick – but we actually have meaningful conversations from time to time. Last week, as I hurriedly ate my lunch before class, I was shocked when the conversation turned to scoliosis. While normally I love to partake in these conversations, I decided just to listen to what my sisters had to say.

It’s funny to me that every girl at the table, though from different states, could remember the dreaded scoliosis screening day in middle school. One girl talked about how at her school all the girls were practically herded into the locker room, told to take off their shirts, and bend over. I couldn’t help by laugh because I can also remember that day like it was yesterday even though it was almost nine years ago.

Ever since then I’ve been thinking – why does scoliosis screening have to be so embarrassing? Is it because you are already an insecure middle schooler who knows nothing about scoliosis other than it’s the deformity that you have to strip down and bend over to see? I guess I just feel like if children were more informed about what scoliosis is and how the screening works prior to the exam day, people wouldn’t have such a negative memory of scoliosis screening day.

I was one of those kids mortified by the diagnosis of scoliosis and I want to change that. I truly believe I was given scoliosis for a reason and I plan to take action!

BsR,
Ashleigh

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