Say Yes to Yourself and Your Ambitions

Ari Anderson avatar

by Ari Anderson |

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Over the years, I’ve thought, “I wish I didn’t have all of these responsibilities and could just have fun all of the time. Living with SMA provides enough pressure that I didn’t ask for!”

Growing up, I would frequently hear, “Go study for those two tests you have at the end of the week.” As I got older and the pressures increased, I would hear things like, “Is that home healthcare advocacy presentation done yet?”

Not having any pressure certainly seems like a great idea, but deep down, is that what I really want? Is that what you really want? Adversity is one of the best motivators for greatness. This is especially true for those in the SMA and rare disease communities. Without it, we would find ourselves without many of the things we love.

You may be thinking, “That’s easy for you to say.” Just hear me out.

A year ago, I found that my ambitions had gone to sleep. I’ve talked about how hard I’ve worked on advocacy and community projects, but at the time, I wasn’t shining in those areas. Why, you ask? It was because I’d made a choice.

I’ve previously written that even with SMA, you always have a choice about how you react to the problems that befall you in life. Unfortunately, the choice I made in the face of adversity was to allow my ambitions to go into hibernation instead of becoming stronger.

This didn’t happen overnight. In the years after college, I had briefly worked for a couple of new organizations as a website designer. I believed it was better to be a part of something that was just getting off the ground. However, it wasn’t long after I started working that the organizations were taken over by new personnel. All of my ideas and effort disappeared into a black hole.

I’m not saying that working for a new business or foundation is the wrong path to take. It just didn’t work for me. But instead of forming a new strategy, and perhaps applying to organizations that were more established and stable, I just wanted to feel sorry for myself. The more I chose to do that, the more I strayed away from job hunting. I didn’t want to face rejection again.

In fact, too many times in the past I’ve taken “No” as a personal rejection. I’ve heard, “No, you can’t work for us,” or, “No, I don’t want to work as a nurse on your case,” as well as, “No, we can’t cover your shift today.”

Just because people keep telling you “No” doesn’t mean you should stop telling yourself “Yes” Thankfully, I started saying yes to myself again by the end of last year. “Yes, I will find a job that values my work instead of throwing it away. Yes, I will find nurses that will be happy to work my case, and my shifts will get covered.”

Good results became pretty evident as soon as I started saying yes to myself again. Working for BioNews, the publisher of SMA News Today, since January is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has been a huge confidence boost to know that my work is moving beyond the development stage and is being seen by the public. Not to mention that I can make a difference in my readers’ lives!

As far as finding nurses, I explained in my last column that I started advertising for myself on social media. I can now gratefully say that so far, the experiment has been a success. I have found enough day nurses and am now working to find staff for nights. One of the new nurses I found said something that makes all of my hard advertising work worthwhile. She told my mom that she “just loves working on my case!”

I won’t be one of those motivational speakers that says you are the one and only thing standing in your own way. But I believe that with God’s help, you do have the power to change your life for the better. You also don’t have to let SMA stand in your way. You and I are a force to be reckoned with!


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.


Jo holbrook avatar

Jo holbrook


susie Crute avatar

susie Crute

Hi Ari! It is great to hear from you again, and I am blessed to be on 'Team Ari'! What you share does 'lift me up', encourage and motivate me! I shared part of your story with our Havarah last month, and asked the group to pray for nurses for you! We share the same zip code and so I see you as 'one of us'! This is His Truth, that we 'fit together', are 'members one of another'! In His Grace, Susie


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