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The First Time I Felt 'Different' Because of My Cerebral Palsy

My most prominent memory of feeling different took place at the tender age of 7, when earlier that day a group of kids at school were making fun of the way I walked as I lead the class down to the cafeteria. I felt upset and embarrassed as they bombarded me with comments like, “Ugh, why are you going so slow,” and “Don’t you know you’re taking forever! Walk faster!”

Of course, I gave into their demands for fear that the insults would only multiply, but even so, they didn’t come to a halt. Although the loud taunts settled to hushed whispers, that didn’t mean they caused me any less pain. No matter how hard I tried to shake them off, the words kept brewing in my mind. I wasn’t one of them and they knew it all along.

Shaken up and distraught, I went home only to wallow in the sorrow that was bestowed upon me by these no-good condescending bullies. That night, I laid awake crying and wishing that I could turn back time to somehow be reborn into an entirely different person. I hated the unwanted stares I got from people because of my walking gait, not to mention my flailing arms that would whirl around with my every step. The notion was ever-so clear — getting rid of my cerebral palsy would allow me to not only fit in, but be accepted by my peers.

As my sobs grew louder, my dad came in to ask what was wrong. Through the tears, I explained exactly what had happened that day in the hallway, to which he responded, “You may not see it now sweetie, but someday you’ll view your disability as a blessing and not a curse. You were born like this for a reason.”

I reflect back at this time now and think about how utterly true this statement turned out to be. Now I have a loving group of friends who accept me for who I am, physical challenges and all. In addition, I have used my CP to educate others by encouraging them to see that all people have the same hopes and dreams. Just because they have a difference doesn’t mean they want to be treated any differently than the average person. Most definitely, they are not inferior or any less than you! People are people and we need to start fighting for equality in order to break the stigma that is conjured by society’s history.

So, all I have to say is thank you Dad, and thank you, cerebral palsy. You have shown me that though you can be hard to cope with at times, you can also deliver the strength and wisdom I need to carry on.

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Thinkstock photo by Sinan Ayhan.