By Paris Husic
The first time I realized that I wanted to be a JDRF Ambassador and have the opportunity to share my story with other people, was actually not too long ago after going through the college application process. At the time, my mind was set on attending the same university as my older brother who was a current freshman. Despite my higher GPA, SAT score, and the fact that I was now a legacy at the university, I was rejected admission, much to the surprise of both my entire family and me.
Upon reviewing the application, it came to my college counselor’s attention that I had written my Common Application about my experiences and hardships growing up with type 1 diabetes (T1D). She marked it as the biggest red flag in my application, stating that writing about things such as illnesses and disabilities are looked upon with a negative attitude from the eyes of a college admissions officer. I was slightly taken aback by these remarks, and even recalled that the year prior my older brother had written his Common Application about his experience living and caring for a diabetic sibling, an essay that was met with extremely high regard.
Amidst my confusion, my counselor asked me, “Why would you write about this? This isn’t a reflection of who you are,” stating that it wasn’t an adequate response to the question. I admittedly responded, “You’re right, type 1 diabetes isn’t a reflection of who I am. I don’t let it determine my life. I should have chosen something else to write about.” Although those words sounded extremely correct, and like the right thing to say at the time, I knew that I had written that essay for a reason.
I wrote that essay because even though people, myself included, like to forget about the day to day struggle that T1D presents, it is still a continuous battle that we must all endure. Having T1D requires that you must fight every single day, knowing that every action has an effect that may potentially be detrimental to your health. There are no shortcuts with T1D, only constant decisions to continue fighting something so routine yet so persistent and potentially dangerous.
I realize now that my essay was not wrong, and that T1D does in fact determine my life. Without T1D, I wouldn’t be half as resilient a person as I am today. I wouldn’t have half the drive to overcome challenges as I do today. I wouldn’t be half as thoughtful a person when it comes to understanding the cause and effect of my actions as I am today.
As difficult as it is to admit, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without the effect T1D has had on my life. By making the decision to wake up and choose to see the positive side of life, I have been able to take the essential character traits that the disease requires of me and apply these characteristics to every other aspect of who I am. Today, I know for a fact that I have numerous redeeming qualities due to living with T1D. I realize that T1D does in fact define who I am, but only because I allow and want it to.
So, I not only want to share my story with others and bring light to this area in which talking about T1D or any illness is looked down upon, I want to help others to see the positive side that this disease has the potential to create. In addition, as someone who is an aspiring collegiate athlete, and maintains a very healthy and fitness oriented lifestyle, I feel as though I am the perfect example to demonstrate how exactly T1D can be used as an effective tool to better oneself, and how to not let it be a burden or hindrance in one’s goals. Today, I can look back on my experience living with T1D and confidently say that it has never stopped me from accomplishing anything I want to be or do.
I have recently taken up the decathlon, a sport that will require me, during competitions, to do ten different events over the course of two days, taxing me in the most physical ways possible. Heading into this new environment, I feel as though I am fully prepared to manage my T1D, and am more than excited to take on the challenge. This is just one example of the countless things I am doing that I would have never imagined being possible as someone who lives with T1D. I also know that this is just the beginning, and have even bigger and better dreams to chase, all while utilizing T1D in a beneficial manner. If you would like to reach out to me, or would simply like to follow me along my journey, my instagram is @pariswalkerhusic.
Paris Husic is 18 years old and was diagnosed with T1D at the age of four. He is originally from San Francisco with his current permanent residence in Napa Valley. He recently graduated high school from The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, and will be returning to New Jersey for a post-graduate year at The Peddie School. Paris has been a basketball player his whole life, but is looking to run track as he continues his college search.
*The views and comments of guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect those of JDRF Greater Bay Area Chapter.