Finding Who I Was Meant to Be as a Person With a Disability
I came to the realization very recently that I’ve changed a lot as a person. This whole embracing change attitude has really made a shift in me. Life can show you who and what matters in an instant. I am not sure how to put this, but I don’t miss the old me at all. I always used to feel timid, scared, apprehensive. Like I was back in middle school and even high school.
I no longer miss the people who chose to leave my life, the ones I had gravely mistaken as my friends; my family. That whole “they’ll be my friend forever” type of thinking is long gone now. In the past year, I can honestly say the one lesson life has taught me is that life can show you the person you were truly meant to be. The moment you place yourself right in front of one of your greatest fears, you have two choices: cower in a corner or face it.
If you asked me a year ago if I’d be where I am today, not just personally, but also gaining speed professionally, I’d tell you outright: absolutely not. Who am I kidding; I am not the same person I was seven-plus years ago. It’s like that line from one of my favorite songs by the rock band Shinedown, “Dangerous.” “I own my story, and I won’t be sorry and neither should you.” I have gone from carrying the weight of an extremely heavy heart with a wall built up, to where you have to know the password to gain entry to me and my life. A year ago this past July, I started my blog, The Abler, with a simple goal in mind — to shed light, education, and knowledge on topics people either make too many assumptions about or dismiss altogether because they simply don’t know what it is or how to help. I met some incredible people. I met myself along the way too.
When I was little, the corner of any room felt safe to me. While the world felt too big and confusing, sometimes I could sit somewhere far off in the distance and watch people, pay attention to all the things people seem to ignore or dismiss as typical. I never had any issues with kids my own age, it was always the adults who made mountains out of speed bumps. They didn’t realize what it meant to be limited to an extent that affected how you did things, lived your life. They understood all the textbook versions and variations, but at the end of the day they closed their books and went on with their lives. That was their definitions of “typical” and that’s OK. What wasn’t OK was the rejection they replaced their misunderstanding with.
I guess you could say that was a small glimpse into the real world, and adult thinking. I wish I could tell you I understand adults more now that I am one myself, but sadly adults are more confusing than ever. Lately, I have seen the word inclusion a lot. Why are you more concerned with being included by groups of people to feel a part of something? Why can’t we just include ourselves into our own stories first, and make what they stand for more noticeable all on our own? Inclusion is a great concept for children, but adults can make their own way with or without feeling included or invited by another person(s). Living your life on your terms does not require an invitation. The world creates enough roadblocks, so why not try and figure out how to turn it into a door for yourself?
That’s another lesson I have learned in the last several months. No opportunity is a missed opportunity unless you let it quietly float by you like a cloud in the sky. I am no longer that little girl in the corner of a room playing it safe. I now understand that the adults were ill equipped to understand the needs of a child who needed a little more attention and understanding when it came to navigating the world with a physical disability. I had yet to learn that the world was not nearly as ill-equipped as when that child grows into an adult. I am not the type of a person to hold a grudge toward anything or anyone that has ever wronged me in some way. I take the lessons I have learned from the person or situation and move on.
The moving on part was always the difficult part for me. I just couldn’t understand why people didn’t seem to “get it.” Having a disability is not a one size fits all situation. And to be honest I still don’t get it. Does anyone remember the old school Sesame Street, “one of the things does not go together.” For me, that’s what it feels like society tries to do with people with any kind of disability. The reality is I can’t erase my disability, and honestly if given the choice I wouldn’t want to. Why? Because when I look in the mirror now, I see the person I was meant to be. And I really like who I see, because I have fought so hard to become her.
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Thinkstock photo by 4maksym.