The pressure of turning 30 and how I’ve relieved it

Lowering my stress by reflecting on my accomplishments while living with EB

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by Lena Riedl |

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The year 2023 has been full of new beginnings and big adventures, including turning 30 last month. But that’s made me feel pressure. I felt I had to reach certain standards and goals as I said goodbye to my 20s. I didn’t feel I was where I should be for my age.

At the same time, I don’t know where I picked up that dogma. When I looked around my bubble of contacts, not everyone had reached the same stage in life. So why was I putting myself under such pressure? I was forgetting how far I’ve come.

That’s why I wanted to take this moment as an opportunity to reminisce and reconsider. Following are a few things I’m proud of and grateful for:

Relief through listing achievements

Having a good attitude: One thing I really like about myself is that I have a positive outlook. I always believe in the good in people and the world. Even when I’m feeling down or hopeless, I know that I’ll find a way back to my happy, sparkling self.

Managing my epidermolysis bullosa (EB): I was born with this rare skin condition, which makes your skin so fragile that the slightest friction causes blisters and wounds. Living with EB means a life full of pain, fear, and restrictions. But despite that, I try to do everything I want and make things work out for me.

Dealing with limitations: Though I try to do everything I want without letting EB stop me, I also accept that I do have limitations and can’t do everything I’d like.

Accepting who I am: I face EB and all the challenges it throws at me daily. My disease is not something I want to hide anymore, and I show my scars proudly. I’ve learned to love and embrace my skin.

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Adopting Nala: In 2020, I made one of my biggest dreams come true: I adopted a little, black, vivacious dog named Nala. She makes me face my fears and question some of my beliefs. She’s also like a little mirror for myself and a reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things.

Modeling: I’ve always wanted to be a model. I wanted to prove to the world and myself that scars are normal, beautiful, and tell an individual story. Thus, they should be embraced rather than hidden. In 2020, I won a contest and became a cover model for Wienerin, one of the biggest magazines in Austria, where I live.

Living abroad: In 2017, I went to Marbella, Spain, for an internship with Debra: Piel de Mariposa (“butterfly children”), a patient organization and charity for people with EB. After a few months there, I realized I was the happiest I’d ever been, so I decided stay for over a year. To do that, I put together all the documents required to live and work there (which I mainly managed by myself). And while there, I learned Spanish. That’s something I’m proud of; living there remains one of the best learning experiences in my life so far.

Traveling: This summer, I went on holidays by myself for the first time, and I loved it. I enjoy my own company, so I know if I want to see something, I can always go by myself.

Making a fresh start: That’s what I did in many ways in 2023, including starting a new job at a public relations agency. I’m still facing a lot of fears about making mistakes and not being good enough, of starting over and learning new things.

Running 5Ks and more: I’m happy that I always find ways to play sports, even if there are some I’ll never be able to handle with my EB. In September, I ran my fifth 5K race. For some people, that’s not a big deal, but for me it is. Growing up, I thought I couldn’t be athletic. But seeing myself run a race from start to finish proves that there’s so much more I can do, and I’m sure I’ll continue to push my boundaries. Maybe I’ll run a 10K next?

Speaking publicly: I’m proud that I talk openly about my life with EB both in the media and in front of large, live audiences — in German, English, and sometimes Spanish.

Being an entrepreneur: I’m proud that in 2022, I was able to turn my hobby into a job by founding my own company, Die Ordnerin, through which I offer personal organizing services.

Now that I’ve reviewed these accomplishments and highlights of my first 30 years, I feel peaceful, as if the weight I felt after my birthday has been taken off my shoulders. I’ve come so far, achieving a lot and bringing much to the table along the way.

Note: Epidermolysis Bullosa News 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 Epidermolysis Bullosa News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to epidermolysis bullosa.


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