03/07/2013 05:21 pm ET Updated May 07, 2013

The New Post-Cancer Me: I Didn't Intend on Being So Different

One of the terms I have hated most when I finished cancer treatment was "new normal." Doctors refer to it, counselors refer to it and a lot of survivors refer to it. I fought it for as long as I could. Recently, I have started to accept the fact that I am not the same person I was before I had gone through my battle with cancer.

I didn't want to be different. Like most people I wanted to go back to the way things were but, I am starting to realize that probably won't ever happen. I had a life path, major and minor goals, and a set of morals and principles to guide them. Then I got sick. Then my priorities changed. I changed. More drastically than I like to admit.

I want to make it clear that not all the new things are bad things. I like the fact that if I have a bad day at work, it doesn't ruin my day. I like that vacation is something I actually appreciate now (not being work work work all the time is a good thing). I volunteer now. I actively participate in fundraising events to help fight cancer. In less than a year I have raised over $7,000 personally for cancer research. A goal I never though would have been possible in my life.

There are a lot of things I do not care for however. I hate how easily frustrated and stressed out I get over little things. I am terribly uncomfortable meeting new people. I got so used to not being around people that I kind of forgot how to. Some days I am better at covering that fact up then others. I hate watching the world mature around me, when I feel so much older than those around me.

I still get tired really easily. People just don't seem to understand that one, no matter how many times I tell them. My oncologist told me it should take around five years to get back to the shape I was in (from a perspective of energy level, blood being "normal," etc.) and I am only a year out. I know people want to forget about those things but it is an added source of frustration when I have to constantly remind people. By the end of almost every day I am so physically and mentally exhausted that I can't/don't want to do very much then sit down and do nothing. I wish it was accepted by the world around me. I find it hard many days to do things I want to do the new way I want to, and people just expect me to do things the old way. I have tried for a long time to be "the old me" but it has really been difficult.

These are just a few things that are different these days, but like I said in the title, I didn't intend on being different after cancer but I am. I am not sure I even know what that means most days. Finding a sense of self and who I am (what I want to do, etc.) is a daily struggle it seems.

My priorities are different. And I am still trying to come to grips with who I actually am in this "new normal" state. I am not sure I know who I am anymore. I used to know. But I am someone different now, I just hope the world can take its time with me as I try to figure it out. I hope the world is as patient as I need it to be.