Writing is many things to many people. For some, it’s a hobby, an outlet, a passion. For others, it’s a bore, a snooze, or a chore. Some people write for business, some for pleasure, and some for a little bit of both.
I fall into the latter category. As someone who writes for both personal and professional gains, I’ve got to say that I haven’t grown tired of it yet. The written word is not yet boring for me.
To me, the written word is pure gold. It’s magic. It’s fairy dust on shooting stars—and I don’t think I’ll get sick of it any time soon.
I’ve been a reader and a writer for as long as I can remember. I played “dress up” and “librarian” equally, and even as I grew older was always this dichotomy: half-geeky-bookworm, half-trendy-fashionista. From journaling to freelancing for magazines and websites, to working for newspapers, and having three books published as an adult, writing has helped me through a lot.
It helped me through breakups and heartache and angst. It helped me find and shape my identity—an identity that I continue to grow and cultivate each and every day. It led me to my truest self, my highest purpose.
Writing helped me through illness. It helped me cope with and chronicle the dozens of debilitating—often incurable—health diagnoses I have been handed over the last 22 years.
Writing gave me my “thing.”
You know what I mean—everyone has their “thing.”
My husband’s “thing” is fitness—he’s a personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, and American Ninja Warrior competitor, in addition to being a 5th-grade teacher. My best friend’s “thing” is being a savvy businesswoman and cosmetologist: a master stylist who owns her own salon. My brother’s “thing” is being good at business and having a hilarious sense of humor. My dad’s “thing” is fixing stuff and knowing how to find a solution to any problem at hand. My mom’s “thing” is being confident and bold, a strong woman who is a pillar of her whole family.
We all have our “things.”
For the longest time, I thought my “thing” was being sick. You see, I am sick. But I’m not ONLY sick, and it took me quite some time to realize that I could separate my “sick” self from the true me.
You see, it is rather hard to distinguish these two halves to my whole because I’m a widely-followed patient advocate known online as Arthritis Ashley. I’ve also written two nonfiction health memoirs about my medical journey. (One is called Sick Idiot; the other is entitled Chronically Positive.) I “put myself out there” all the time when it comes to my several (or, several dozens) diagnoses: I’ve spoken on Capitol Hill, tweeted with Oprah Winfrey, and won awards, all because of my being sick…and due to my tireless work in the health and wellness field.
But I’ve realized in recent months that Arthritis Ashley isn’t all that I am: as the back of my humorous health memoir says, I’m more than just a Sick Idiot.
Arthritis Ashley is the Clark Kent to my Superman, the Sasha Fierce to my Beyoncé. Not quite an alter ego, but not all that I am, either.
I can finally say, without fear of sounding like a poseur or an impostor or a narcissist that I’m an author.
I’m an author.
I’m an author, and a blogger, and a health coach. I’m a public speaker. I’m a lover of animals and fashion, of music and books. I’m a wife and a daughter, a sister and a friend. I like astronomy. I wrote one fiction novel called To Exist, and I am working on another.
I’m a woman.
A writer, and a woman.
I’m sick, but I’m not just sick.
My books are my “thing.”
A passion for language and the written word is my “thing.”
And so I ask you…
Find your “thing,” and cling to it. Own it, live it, rock it. Your “thing” is your calling, and maybe your calling card, too. Maybe you’re a philanthropist or a phlebotomist, a churchgoer or an Atheist, an artist or a gardener or an ornithologist or a bilingual marathoner who dabbles in vegan cooking on the weekends. Antique-buyer? Great! Golfer? Amazing! Deep-sea diver or deep-dish pizza connoisseur? Amazeballs!
Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom, an entrepreneur, a multi-level marketer, a corporate go-getter, a savvy saleswoman, a fitness fanatic, an animal-rescuer, or a web-developer. ROCK IT.
Are you an author like me? Go get ‘em. Write, and keep on writing.
Do you. Be you. Find out who you are, and fall in love with that person.
I promise that you won’t regret it.
Ashley Boynes-Shuck is the author of Sick Idiot,
Chronically Positive, and To Exist. Reporter for healthline.com. • abshuck.com