Disability Is Not 'One Size Fits All'
Disabilities are not one-dimensional. It is easy to look at someone with cerebral palsy and see all of the most textbook symptoms such as joint aches, a noticeably different walk, and fatigue and assume CP is a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. That’s not true. No, not true at all. In fact, I believe it is this very assumption that pushes so many into the dark abyss that is the “I can’t” syndrome. So many don’t understand that yes, we may have limitations but we aren’t all the same. We have stories that need to be heard, stories we are capable of sharing. How do we get rid of the “one size fits all” stereotype? How do we make people listen to us?
I believe the core issue is getting people to come together in the first place. In my observation, the only way one may overcome such scrutiny is by passion built from struggle, confidence built through life experience, and pure determination. Don’t quit. Don’t entertain the “I can’t” syndrome. Pull yourself up out of that pit. Start focusing on what you can do. We don’t all have the same talents and passions; we all have unique stories. I feel the most crucial part of success is to keep pushing boundaries. Don’t let your limits control you. Embrace them, but hang on the most to your heart and your passion; it gives you two qualities that are so priceless and precious to the disability community.
Life truly begins to blossom when you realize a part of you may touch a part of someone else; you just never know when you will. Don’t listen to that faint voice in your head that says you’re nothing. You are not a one size fits all. Get out there. Let’s put the unity in community and the ability in disability.
Advocacy can be a great avenue to travel on; writing for me has been the magical key that opened the door to such a whirlwind of opportunity. The Mighty family is a united group of people with disabilities that I am proud to be a part of. Such togetherness between us is beautiful, and has encouraged me on my life journey so much; it is so refreshing to meet people who have varying conditions, yet find common ground with each other.
My goal as a mentor and an advocate is to inspire young adults to embrace who they are. The world needs more young people to advocate for themselves and to encourage each other; to comfort one another on the not so good days, the days when we are exhausted or feeling the sting of frustration. It is perfectly normal to feel those ways. Life can be messy, and quite unfair. We have to lean on each other and let others know their perceived weakness can actually be a strength, a blessing. So let’s continue to show the world what we’re made of. Let’s bring people together. Who’s with me?
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Thinkstock image by Frances Coch.