To be extraordinary, you need to surpass being normal, but what if you're not normal to begin with? This is my story: Growing up as a girl in India I spent more time in hospitals than actually at home, and this only accelerated as I grew older. Now, I live in London with a severe form of Crohn's disease that has left me with one small intestine than a full stomach, one functioning lung as my asthma got incredibly bad and seronegative arthritis. For those who don't know what that is, it essentially merges my pelvis to my spine making it very painful to stand up or go to sleep. What does this mean? I can barely eat out because I can't have any vegetables, fruits, nuts or wholegrain due to Crohn's and I cannot work in an office because I need to take breaks every couple of hours to ease my joints. So being normal was out the window long time ago!
As any Indian father would, my dad would repeatedly think out loud, "Why does everything happen to you?" whenever I was hospitalized or given another incurable diagnosis. This stuck with me over the years; however, instead of pleading God or any higher power as my dad was alluding to, I began to ask this question to myself, "Why is this happening to you?" and the answers were beyond my imagination bringing to life the concept of going beyond the extraordinary. Of course, I can't eat out most of the time, I can't have a regular job and I basically hibernate at home during winter because the cold literally freezes my joints making it unable to move, BUT, and this was the but that changed my life, what does this allow me to do? In an age where everyone is complaining of not having enough time or being able to follow their passion I was given the most desired opportunity of all: the ability to do anything that I wanted because I couldn't do what everyone else could.
So moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world might not seem like the smartest decision to make when you're deemed unable to work or even get out of that flat you rent which costs a small fortune every month, BUT this also meant that I was in a place that had more opportunities than people had the courage for, and that's exactly what I focussed upon. So what if I couldn't work in an office or move (take this with a grain of salt), I had a mind that wouldn't stop coming up with ideas, ideas that the world needs and is calling out for. This is when Chronically Driven was born; a platform sharing real stories told by real people on the positive ways an incurable diagnosis has transformed their lives for the better. We have generated interests and more importantly sourced stories from exceptional people across the world with inspirational experiences to share. The mission behind Chronically Driven is not merely to spread awareness on "invisible disabilities" (which is just as important) but also ignite passion into the lives of those who have been told there's nothing they can do to lead a fulfilling life. I was that person, I was repeatedly told that growing up as a child with severe asthma to now as an adult when I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease three years ago and I am determined to prove that nothing could be further from the truth. The people I have met from Chronically Driven show that a diagnosis does transform your life but how you let it is entirely your choice.
Autoimmune conditions, which make up most of the conditions within the invisible disability category, are sweeping through the world with millions diagnosed every single day, its time we generated a social response to this fundamental shift to how people's lives are changing. This doesn't mean we should be excluded from the workforce or ignored but each of us has enormous creative energy to give to the world and it would be a crying shame to let it slip by. I have had the privilege of working with some prestigious museums and galleries across the world producing digital projects because that's what I am passionate about and I get to work from my bed bringing technology and arts together. I am equally blessed to have built a community around Chronically Driven with support from The British Council and whole host of other institutions who want to work with us now.
I know everybody wants to be extraordinary, who wouldn't? But I knew from a young age that I could never be extraordinary so I looked to go beyond the extraordinary and I urge you to discover what's waiting for you outside of this world of simply being extraordinary.