Sunday, November 6, 2011
The Woods Would Be Very Silent...
I have lofty goals for my community in health activism. For our collective voices. But personal aspirations? I don't know.
I've questioned for a long time who I want to be in terms of POLs (patient opinion leaders) and torchbearers and visionaries.
I feel so busy caring for my family, managing my health, and teaching music that I can't imagine taking up the banner any higher than I already carry it - to do diabetes advocacy for a living. I struggle to carve out time to write - which is my favorite hobby ever. I don't find time to read books. I don't watch tv or movies. I don't even listen to music unless I'm learning it for a gig or my students. Yes, I'm a writer and musician who doesn't make time to do much of either.
I don't know how I'd pretend I could have aspirations of being some great big voice for my community.
I will admit that I seethe with jealousy that I'll likely never be invited to Roche or a bloggers' summit (but only because it sounds like a blast). I'm not in the first 20 names you'd rattle off as inspirational diabetes activists. And it's a little unlike me to be okay with that.
But what's strange is that I'm infinitely proud to call those 20 (and so many more) my acquaintances. My friends. My torchbearers. And to have that be enough for me. They are so effective at getting our message out and so much more dedicated in their health activism. They MAKE the time that I haven't.
And I don't feel my efforts are wasted or that my voice is stifled when I add to their mission. There is room for every one of us with a story to tell. And each of us validates the experiences of the other.
I see myself as a local leader rather than a global one. I'm happy to do what I can for the people closer to home. In my state. In my metroplex. In my friends' list. In my online communities, too.
I feel proud to say that, through sharing my story, I've helped some parents of type 1s believe in their children's futures. I've helped young women with diabetes believe they can have healthy pregnancies if they choose to. I've helped my peers through the rough times and even occasionally helped my mentors. What greater aspirations could I have?
I share my story so that others without diabetes will know a little bit more about what I go through - what so many of us go through. So that people with diabetes won't grow up, as I did, thinking that they are the only ones who don't have textbook "control." I share my story so that friends will be more comfortable sharing their own struggles. We all have them.
Wouldn't the ultimate aspiration of all health activism be that we're all a bit more educated about the trials we each face? A bit more sympathetic to one another's suffering? And that it would affect change in the world in terms of donations, volunteerism, and research?
If I could do anything as a health activist... Wait. I can. I do. We all do. Just by being part of our communities. With every post and every picture and every tweet, we reach out and put a hand on someone else's shoulder to say, "You're okay. We'll get through this." And everyone needs that from time to time.
"Use what talents you possess;
The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."
---Henry Van Dyke, American writer/poet/essayist
This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.