Nikki H. Rose reminds you to reach out to others whenever you feel you are alone.
I grew up with a battle that affects more people than I can even wrap my mind around. I grew up not knowing what was wrong with me. I grew up asking why it had to be me and why I couldn’t find any answers. I grew up being told I wasn’t alone.
It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis was. It doesn’t matter if it were an invisible or blatantly obvious illness. Because this isn’t about me — it’s about you. What matters is that I felt alone and felt that no one could relate to what I was going through. And maybe you’re feeling that way, too. Maybe you need to hear this just as much as I did, and sometimes still do.
My mom used to tell me there were other people in the world who were going through similar things. That everyone has different experiences and different variations of experiences, but there was nothing that I was dealing with that someone somewhere in the world couldn’t relate to. I wasn’t sure I believed her. Not at the time. Because as far as I knew, I was alone. I was the only one. And there were no answers for me.
But then she told me to reach out to people. To look for people with a similar story. To share my story so others could find me. Because if I wasn’t willing to share my story, then how could I expect others to share theirs?
So, I began to share. I wrote about it. I read about it. I joined support groups for it and shared what little knowledge I had on the subject matter. I was no expert. I don’t know if I’d consider myself an expert in any particular area, least of all one I never wanted to belong to anyway. But as it stands now, I have experience with this one — and if I don’t share it, then other people might continue to suffer and feel just as lost as I once did.
My mother told me I wasn’t alone. She told me I might feel alone at times but that there would never actually be a time in my life where I would be completely and utterly alone. It didn’t even matter if I knew the person or had contact with them at the time; it helped just knowing there was someone else out in the world who could relate to what I was going through.
And not just in the way to which people claim when they tell you they understand when you tell them the hard time you’re going through. Although many of these people had good intentions, they didn’t understand on the level that I needed. I needed real people, somewhere in the world, who were going through the same struggles and attempting to overcome the same obstacles I felt trapped by. They were out there. I wasn’t alone. And so I knew I could keep fighting — because if they could, then so could I.
So, I did. I continued to fight. I’ve been fighting the same uphill battle for over half of my life, and it doesn’t get any easier. But what does get easier is knowing there are other people battling this fight right next to me. They’ve got me. They have my back. They don’t even know me or know that I exist, but I know they’re out there — and that’s all I need.
My mom first told me that I was not alone when I was 12 years old. I have spent the rest of my life so far sharing this message with as many people as I can reach. I have told my students, my friends, and even strangers who seemed like they needed a bit of help: None of you are alone. Not now. Not ever.
And even if you don’t believe me? Even if you don’t think there are other people out there in the world who care enough to stand by you, to be there for you, to help you overcome your own obstacles? Then know that I am here. I am here for you. I am here to show you that you’re not alone. That I will do my best to get it, but I will know that you get it far more than I do. I will never know your story better than you know your own; I won’t tell you what you should be doing to live a better life. But I will stand by you. I will listen to you. I will hear you. Because you matter. You’re not alone. Your life — the good and the bad—is worth fighting for.