Learning To Be Myself

Learning To Be Myself

As the youngest child in a stereotypical Jewish family, finding independence has always been a process for me. I may be 27, have a full time job, and rent an apartment in the city, but grandma still calls to check on my scraped knee.

Then last fall, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After spending my twenties trying to prove I could do things myself, I suddenly wanted nothing more than for my parents to live my life for me. What surgery do I get? What do I say at work?

When forced in a corner, you have two options: curl up into a ball and watch the entire Netflix catalogue (admittedly tempting) or, be the best version of yourself in the short and long term.

Step one was admitting I needed help, and finding the right format for that. For me, Sharsheret was the best choice. I needed someone who would quench my thirst for information; listen to me alternately complain about or praise my family; and provide suggestions in how to maintain privacy in my supportive, but sometimes intrusive Jewish community.

Step two was to lean in to the love from my family and friends. You can be independent without going it alone. Whether it was daily gifts, group internet chats, or visits with Chinese food in hand, everyone in my life stepped up to the plate. They couldn’t actually go through recovery for me, but they made it less lonely.

Step three is simply learning to be myself again- not just physically in the short term, but emotionally in the long term. I’m still on step three. Since my surgery I’ve gotten a new job with more responsibilities. I’m training for a half marathon. And I’m writing this blog. Once you’ve put so much work into regaining physical independence, actively working to better yourself in other ways becomes more important— scraped knees be damned.