Do you ever just feel like the whole world is against you? Like a wave in a hurricane trying to take down your little kayak. You’re just trying to stay aboard it shouldn’t be that hard, but all the voices, all the doubt, all the sadness, just follows you everywhere. One can never just simply be left in peace. As human beings we ourselves and only ourselves are at fault for these feelings. We are at fault for wanting to please everyone and the world is at fault for never allowing that a person simply be good enough. My hurricane came when I recently turned 16. It was something that I had been looking forward to for awhile. The morning of my 16th birthday I awoke to a flowered bag on my nightstand. I looked at the bag, acknowledged it and walked down the stairs, with no care or no curiosity as to what might be in it. As a young child I had always wondered why adults never made a big deal out of birthdays and as I spread my jelly across my toast, I thought, could it be because they all feel like me? Do they all feel forgotten and alone in this world? I sat down and in that moment, if you asked me how I felt, I would have said fine. Growing up with a chronic illness is something that gives teenagers grey hair. It makes us wise beyond our years and it separates us from the rest of the world and our peers. It makes us difficult and almost impossible to understand. Although I would have said I felt fine, I really just felt alone. All these things ran through my mind. Those voices polluted my head making my vision of the world cloudy. My friends couldn’t understand me, my family certainly couldn’t come close, and I felt so lost in a great big world. Sometimes in the worst of times, you can just stumble across that perfect thought, that perfect memory, that perfect realization. It comes to you by nothing more that coincidence, as if your conscience is trying to tell you something. The tears that filled my eyes dried and I smiled from ear to ear as a memory replayed in my head. I remembered those beautiful city lights that glistened in the puddles. I remembered how great it felt to know I was alive, and even better to be here with my best friend. It felt great to be normal and to have someone who could relate to that feeling. Being chronically ill, some days you don’t even get out of the house, and when you do, it’s a miracle. After having a life saving surgery the previous month, who better to spend my time with than Josh. The only other kid on the face of this planet that could understand how I felt about my illness. Josh and I met in the summer of 2013. We met at the EDNF conference which is held every summer usually on the east coast. He had flown out here from California with his mom and sister to attend the conference. I had driven 45 minutes from my house with my best friend Becca who also has EDS. When I first met Josh the first thing I thought was “man this kid is annoying”. Little did I realize in the following months we would become best friends. I admired Josh for the fact that he was so strong and befriended him. Our friendship didn’t include much conversation about EDS or RSD or POTS or any of the other bull shit that affected our lives. Instead we talked about normal kid things. It seemed crazy that it was now the winter of 2015 two and a half years after we had met and we were still best friends. By looking at Josh and I you could never tell that we sat out on the sidelines while the other kids played at recess. You would never think that we both grew up feeling trapped always held back by our illnesses, not for lack of effort, but for a serious physical lacking. You would never know that we both experienced pain so great that we found it hard to function. We just look like two normal teenagers, but we have more than generation in common. When you’re stuck in a hurricane in a kayak, it is always a comfort to have someone by your side. A person who can say it will all be okay. A person to talk to in order to distract yourself from a hard reality of the waves crashing down. More than just a best friend, but someone who’s been in the same spot. The only thing I wanted this year for my sweet 16 was to be understood. I wanted someone who I could talk to about my problems, I wanted someone who would laugh with me about my problems, I wanted an understanding ear that knew how to make me feel better. For this reason, I got a plane ticket to California and left all the voices, all the doubt, all the sadness behind me. I spent my birthday and this Christmas with Josh and his family. It was the best birthday and the best Christmas that I’d ever had. I know that I am more than lucky to have someone that I can text, call, or just harass any time I please who will understand. More than anything, I am more than grateful that I am no longer in my little kayak alone.