Last week I participated in the Forum for Young Canadians for a second year in a row. As I learned last year, it is an awesome program where Canada's brightest students gather to learn about politics and government. One could say that I learned a lot about these topics throughout my week, but some of my personal lessons-learned were from one-on-one interaction with my students.
There is one moment that stands out for me both as an IBS sufferer, advocate and blogger and I feel compelled to share it with you. A student came up to me one morning just prior to the start of our jam-packed day. She was very upset and visibly stressed - the reason? She has IBS and was worried that walking to the day's activities would trigger an unwelcome washroom visit. We were able to find a solution for her through a taxi, which allowed her to attend the sessions but not have the additional worry about whether or not she could make it without visiting the loo. The problem was, I automatically asked the following question: "would you like me to tell the group that you are running behind and will meet us there"? Her response was to let the group know what was happening.
Shame on me. As soon as she responded I felt both ashamed of myself and overwhelmingly proud of her. For all my talk about being honest and not hiding my illness, my automatic response was to create a lie so that everyone would think she was tardy instead. At almost half my age, my student did not feel the need to hide behind excuses, she recognizes that this is her reality and she faces it head-on. I found her to be extremely inspiring. She has achieved at a very young age what I can only hope to accomplish through working diligently via this blog and through my social interactions, the difference being that the truth came naturally to her and I have learned over the years that this condition is something to hide.
Given that this is IBS Awareness Month, for those of you who suffer with IBS, learn from her example by exuding confidence and not apologizing or making excuses for something you cannot control.