I always wondered as a student who was trying to figure out their life, if following my passion for diabetes was sustainable as a career? I was already ahead of the game by identifying diabetes advocacy was my passion, but how could I integrate that into my interest in politics to create a long term career path? It almost seemed too easy. My passion literally chose me; it fell right into my lap. But was that enough? Or did I need to do more?
It wasn’t until I went to a conference, the Students with Diabetes Conference, my sophomore year of college and was surrounded by other students with diabetes who had this same passion and asked the same question I did, that I knew my answer.
First of all, you always have to follow your heart. In my heart I knew it was the issues that people with diabetes face everyday was what really lit a fire underneath me.The only way that you can ever be happy is if you follow your heart. No matter if it came to you when you were five years old, or if you are 85 years old it is never too late to realize, or even change, your passion.
Secondly, a passion for diabetes advocacy is not just diabetes advocacy. It is so much more. It is understanding the United States healthcare system. It’s understanding non-profits, fundraising, community organizing and facilitating collaboration. It is connecting with patient groups and understanding their needs. It can span as far as lobbying the FDA for guidance on new technologies, fighting the big PhRMA companies on rising cost of drugs and even educating private insurers on what regulations are limiting access to cutting edge technology. And diabetes advocacy doesn’t stop at just diabetes. Many research methods and goals overlap with many other chronic autoimmune diseases. So while your focus may be just on diabetes, you are effecting change in many different fields.
Thirdly, surrounding myself with people who were my biggest cheerleaders gave me the strength and confidence to go full steam ahead to what I knew in my heart was the right thing. I would have never learned that this kind of supportive community was out there, without finding the Students with Diabetes Program. These supporters whom I’ve met, will encourage you to be un-apologetically passionate about your diabetes. But this program also provided me with the tangible tools to help pave my path to a career where I can genuinely happy and create genuine change for others.
So if you were like me, you may have had your passion fall into your lap when you were five. If you were like me then it took you years to accept that this is your passion. If you were like me then you were worried that your passion had too small of a scope and you wouldn’t be fulfilled. If you were like me then you thought people would judge you for your passion, or look down on you for placing too much attention on a really tragic event that you didn’t ask for. If you were like me, then you know that having a passion for diabetes advocacy and ambition to work in a diabetes field, then that is enough. You are enough. When you turn your setback, into a passion and into opportunities for your future, do it. Go for it. And don’t look back.