I’ve been told many times by many people that I should be a counselor. It’s not unusual for my friends, family members, and co-workers to turn to me for wise advice, calm reassurances, or simply a listening ear. I don’t always know the right advice to give, but I try my best. And I’m always prepared to listen and support anyone who needs it.
Why do these acts come so naturally to me? In part, it’s probably because I am truly my mother’s daughter. I possess many of the same caring, empathetic qualities that she does. I’ve spent my life watching her reach out to support others. I have also watched her work hard to obtain a master’s degree in psychology, and now she is pursuing additional education in clinical mental health counseling — tools that can set her on a path to become a counselor herself.
In addition to inheriting an empathetic heart, my own life experiences have helped to foster my strong desire to uplift anyone who needs it. Not only have I been on the receiving end of this type of supportive compassion during my own times of need, but also many of my hardships and triumphs have given me the ability to recognize when I can extend this same compassion to those around me. Overcoming daily adversities also grants me the ability to relate to them on a genuine and personal level.
My disability plays a large role in enabling these empathetic connections. Because of my journey, I’ve been through some deep lows, including severe illnesses, long hospital stays, and painful surgeries, as well as all of the tumultuous emotions that can go along with those rough and bumpy rides.
Every experience in life, good and bad, has equipped me to connect with people and support them. Being able to encourage people in such a way is something I consider to be a great blessing — both to those who seek out my encouragement and to myself. On my own hard days, when seemingly battling against my easily fatigued body leaves me discouraged, the knowledge that I have been able to positively impact those around me also uplifts my spirits.
The ability to give real empathy is an incredible gift for both the giver and the receiver. It’s a gift that I might not have gotten to share if not for a resilience gained by life experience and an inherited tendency for compassion. (I also inherited something that my mom and I like to call “the God gene,” which I believe plays a role in this as well.)
At this point in my life, I have no aspirations of becoming a professional counselor. My current job is far better than I could have imagined it might be. But to everyone that needs someone to talk to, whether you’ve talked to me before or not, know that I am always here for you, and I will always gladly listen.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.
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