It was the first day of my junior year of high school. First days are always a big deal, but this one seems even more monumental. I haven’t been in-person at school for such a long time. I started off attending school in-person my sophomore year, but with the high number of COVID cases running through town, our school pretty quickly switched to remote learning. Then, when classes did resume in person, I remained remote. It was easy to just let others think I was at home because of my parents’ fear of the COVID virus. This was partly true - my parents were afraid that I would catch COVID especially not knowing how it would affect my autoimmune problems. But the real reason was that I was already not feeling good from my PSC with terrible headaches and fully drained of energy as well as having a bad flare up of my ulcerative colitis. I didn’t want anyone to know the details of either of these, especially the fact that I was going to the bathroom a million times a day, and I was content to learn comfortably from home. This year, though, I am excited to be back at school. Neither of my health issues are perfect, but they are at least somewhat better than they were. I really hope I feel good this year, because there is no longer a remote option to fall back on which is upsetting to me.
My favorite thing about the first day has always been the first day outfit - picking out my own, seeing how cute my friends look, and checking out how the people that I hadn’t seen all summer have changed. My friends and I had decided a few days before that we would all be dressing up. The weather was still very warm, so cool sundresses were the perfect choice! For myself, I chose a short, flowy dress in a deep hue of turquoise blue. I love that color because of the way it brings out the strawberry blond in my hair, and I feel confident wearing it. I carefully choose my jewelry next. I am sure to slip on the ring that my mother gave me that she used to wear when she was a teen. It is silly, but I feel like somehow it brings me good luck when I wear it. I check myself in the mirror one more time. After putting on some lip gloss and brushing my long hair, again, I decide that I am happy with how I look, and I am ready to go out the door.
As I go up the pathway to the school, I look around and think to myself that I fit in with all of the other kids walking in with me. I look like them, and I realize that I am dressed similarly wearing the same popular brands. The good thing is that no one knows that I have pains in my stomach, my headache is killing me, or that fatigue makes my day so hard. I really just want to appear that I am like everyone else who doesn’t have to deal with these health problems, that I don’t look sick. But I guess on the other hand, if I think about it, it also is a bad thing that no one knows or understands how I am feeling. It is nothing that can be seen from the outside. No one knows.