held back no more.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a second to blog. My life has gotten pretty crazy lately, which is hard to believe it can get crazier than having severe colitis and having your colon emergently removed.

But I was thinking the other day how important it is that I share how I have been able to get back on my feet, get an amazing new job, run a magazine, move from one big city to another, and still find time for family and friends all while recovering from a disease that was killing me and having 3 major abdominal operations in the past year.

Having inflammatory bowel disease, or any kind of disease, should never stop you from pursuing what you want for yourself, both personally and professionally. At my sickest, I never thought I would be able to accomplish the dreams that I had for myself back in college. I couldn’t see past the bathroom door, literally.

When I found out I had to have an ostomy, I never fathomed sharing that with ANYONE. Not close friends, let alone strangers. But I found that after my first operation, you gain a sense of pride with your ostomy. At least I did. I felt like it was important to let everyone know that having something like an ostomy shouldn’t impair or scare you from having a life. I have probably told every single person that I have worked with so far, plus my boss and her boss, that I had my colon removed and had a “new one” built just this past February. I have received all kinds of responses, from, “wow,” to, “I actually have Crohn’s,” to, “You’re hired!”

Because owning the hardships you have been through is the best possible thing you can do for yourself and honestly, for others. With every person I tell my story to, whether it be a co-worker or a new friend, that is spreading awareness for my cause. That is opening up and letting people in to know why I am the way I am.

I can honestly say that I am happier now than I have been for a long, long time. I have a job that I absolutely love, that’s challenging and makes me think and work hard. Yes, my jpouch has had its days the past few weeks since I’ve started that have made me not feel so great, but that can only be used as an excuse for so long. It got to the point where I decided it was time to stop letting my colon rule my life and to go out and make those life choices for myself.

You don’t even have to be sick or colon-less to understand the importance and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you do things or make decisions in your life that will undoubtedly change it forever. I also wanted to share how unbelievably gratifying it is to accept yourself as an independent woman. To wake up and realize that the only person you need in life is yourself. If you are in ANY kind of relationship that is causing you harm, physically or verbally, you have to have enough respect for yourself to pick yourself up, dust off the dirt of the other persons negativity and search for what makes YOU happy. If I have learned anything from being sick, it’s that we only get one shot at life. Why would anyone continue to waste any moment that could be happy on one that makes you feel awful? Even if you think there is no way out, if you truly believe that you have nothing without that person and leaving them would mean losing everything, I can tell you with complete certainty that you are wrong. There is always a way out, there is always more out there, and there are much brighter days ahead. You don’t have to be held down and shouldn’t be in any way, whether it be by a person or a disease.

All it took for me was seemingly the flip of a light switch. I realized that I could not allow certain aspects of my life to hold me back anymore, including my disease. I got up, applied to 20 jobs all over the country and got a call from the number one news and press release distribution company in America. Some people have told me to avoid telling potential new jobs about what happened to me, but I held no detail back in this interview and was hired in an hour.

I packed my belongings in a U-Haul, found an amazing apartment directly in the middle of the city, and walked into this huge company with the utmost confidence I could find. Was it hard? Yes. Do I feel amazing physically? No. Will it get better? Absolutely.

I love my job, I work 9 hours a day 5 days a week, and it is exhausting. But it is so excitingly rewarding how much progress I have made. My boss has complimented me and is already allowing me to do some work on my own starting on Monday. I found out one of my friends from Otterbein works and lives here, which is amazing, my co-workers are all accepting and willing to teach me and be patient, they show interest in me, they help me, they ask me how I’m doing, everything just works.

And isn’t that how life should be? The overall message that I’m trying to get at is, when things in life are supposed to go right, they will, but you have to let them. You have to take the time to take control of your own life. The only person that can change your unhappiness or your disappointment, your pain, is you. You have to let go and let God, regardless of what you have been through.

I did. And I want everyone with any kind of disease, insecurity, doubt, or ailment, especially girls and women, to understand that you have a say in what direction your life is going to go. Don’t let other people or the way you feel make those decisions for you.

Stay positive and keep on keepin’ on! There are amazing opportunities in life. What’s holding you back?

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