31 Days of SMA: If We Fear the Unknown, We Overlook Opportunities for Happiness

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 | SMA News Today | A smiling Maddy Gunawan poses in front of an outdoor concert stage

Photo courtesy of Maddy Gunawan

Day 24 of 31

This is Maddy Gunawan‘s story:

Hi! My name is Maddy, and I was diagnosed with SMA type 2 before my second birthday.

Upon receiving a diagnosis, my parents faced a mountain of unknowns. They recently had immigrated to a new country, had their first child, and were thrown into SMA’s void with no support system. There was so much information yet so little understanding of what our lives would look like.

In those early moments, the unknown was frightening, confusing, and at times, disheartening. How does life go on if you don’t know what’s coming? It turns out that life does go on, and it happens to be a pretty great one.

As a child, I was fearless. My community supported me in the pursuit of what I thought would bring me joy. I’ve gotten to live out some of my wildest dreams. Going to college and living independently was a big goal I had set for myself, and I achieved it. For that, and so much more, I’m forever grateful. I’ve loved, I’ve lost, and most importantly, I’ve lived.

I’m in a period of my life now where I feel a little behind schedule, but it’s also the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s difficult feeling like this when you’ve beat the odds and achieved some of your biggest goals, but you’re stuck wondering what’s next. In my mind, there’s always the looming thought of worst possible scenarios that could happen at any given moment.

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of how bright the possibilities could be. Maybe it’s generalized anxiety disorder or perhaps it has to do with the state of the world we live in. But I had a realization: If I had let doubt control my life from the very beginning, I wouldn’t be who I am today. As common as it is to be afraid of the unknown, we should normalize being excited for what’s to come.

Two decades ago, I never could’ve imagined the life I’m living today. I’ve defied expectations, both scientifically and personally. I hope that we stop defaulting to negativity in our uncertainties and instead start dreaming of all the things that will be in our favor.

SMA News Today’s 31 Days of SMA campaign will publish one story per day for SMA Awareness Month in August. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofSMA, or read the full series.

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