I’m on the pursuit of happiness.

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
– Anonymous

{Just a little disclaimer about this post, I’m writing with a little anger. Sorry! }

Nothing frustrates me more than complainers. I have to admit, when I meet or hear about someone who would rather complain than fix a situation, I cannot help but get a little angry inside. So, as I sat in Salty Nut (a restaurant/bar in 5points; Columbia, SC) listening to a story about “Jane Doe’s” life- I could feel myself getting a little fired up.

Jane had to face so many obstacles in life. She had a deformity which caused her to have corrective surgery. Then, when the pain and discomfort continued, she had a second surgery. Her medical condition caused her to miss so much school, she would have to withdraw from classes numerous times. When she graduates from college and starts working as a nurse, the hospital will have to honor her request for modified hours because she simply cannot stand that long. According to her, the hospital has no choice, she qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Oh, and did I mention her deformity was scoliosis and her surgery was a spinal fusion?

I realize I am being really harsh, but this is one of my biggest pet-peeves in life. Not people with disabilities, but people who complain about the cards they have been dealt. Maybe this is due to the fact that I have a grandfather who has lived his entire life in pain, yet never complains or feels sorry for himself. When he goes to the doctor, they literally cannot offer him anything to ease the pain. My grandfather can hardly walk and constantly falls, yet he just started using a handicap pass although it has been in his possession for years. He just recently allowed his pride to take a backseat, and he started using a scooter to get around. My grandfather does not let life pass him by – he lives life- he truly loves life. He has always been one of my biggest inspirations in life.

So maybe it is because I have such an inspirational man in my life, but feeling sorry for yourself has just never been an option in my family. I was listening about all of Jane Doe’s problems in life, but nothing she has experienced is anything different than a typical person with scoliosis faces. Not to brag on myself, but if you did not see my scar and/or know my past, you probably would never know I had a spinal fusion in the first place. I am your typical 21 year old college student. I can go out and dance with friends, I can spend days on boats in rough waters, I can run races… I can do almost anything I want. I do not have to make many choices based on my back. In fact, the only one I can think of is the decision not to tumble anymore, but let’s face it – if I attempted to do even a back handspring right now, I would probably end up in the hospital with a broken neck (and that’s the last thing I need!) But, I have seen a girl tumble across a football field with ease post spinal fusion, so it can be done.

I guess the point I am trying to make here is that Jane Doe and I are really not that different. In fact, it is a little eerie how similar we are were. The only thing that makes us different is how we chose to cope with what life handed us. I do not want to be treated any differently than anyone else and I certainly do not think I qualify for Americans with Disabilities protection. While she uses her scoliosis and spinal fusion as a crutch, I am using mine as a stepping stone. Like Randy Paush (of the Last Lecture) said, “you cannot change the cards you are dealt, just how you play the hand.”

Here is my challenge for you: Do not let adversity hold you back. You have two choices. One, you can sit around and feel sorry for yourself as life passes you by. Sure, you will probably get by and have an okay life. Or, two, you can heal, both physically and mentally and move on! Get out there, do what you want, do not hold yourself back! While Jane Doe is setting limits for herself, I’m trying to decided what I am going to do in life, not because of boundaries, but because I want to do so much. So, you can accept my challenge or choose to ignore it, by I’m telling you from experience, you absolutely will not regret it!

“You got a dream, you got to protect it. You want something, go get it. Period.”
– The Pursuit of Happyness (2008).



4 thoughts on “I’m on the pursuit of happiness.

  1. Thanks for sharing………as a Mother of a 12 yr old 6 mths months away from Scoliosis surgery.
    I hope that my daughter,” heals physically & mentally and get a move too!” 🙂

  2. I love Papa! It is so true that he never complains, and he always greets you with a smile and a hug. It was funny when you mentioned the handicap pass he has had for as long as I can remember. What a special man and grandfather! Great blog, Ash! Love you!

  3. I can see that you are a strong young lady and want everyone else to be strong too. That’s not a bad thing. However, I do think you are being extremely harsh on Jane. Everyone handles pain differently. Your scoliosis may not have been as severe as Jane’s. You can’t FEEL what Jane feels physically. Don’t assume that you can and don’t assume she’s using her pain and condition as a crutch. Don’t be so cruel.

  4. I am a thirteen year old with scoliosis and the spinal fusion surgery to help. i am a cheerleader in middle school, before you have to know how to do the hard stuff. i would love to continue being a cheerleader in high school. but i thought since having the rods i would never been able to do a back handspring. which is a requirement. is it really possible to do one? i would love to try, but like you said, attempting to would probably put me in the hospital.

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