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What I Would Tell My Younger Self With Cerebral Palsy, by Age

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Having CP has been a lifelong journey. As I look back, there are so many experiences because of it that have shaped my young life. In hindsight, it’s easy to say, “If only I could go back in time and tell my younger self this!” or, “If only I knew then what I know now!” Having cerebral palsy has given me the opportunity to live and learn in so many ways and at every age. If I could give the younger Lucy pieces of advice, here’s what I would tell her: 

Age 4: You rock that butterfly brace, girly!

Age 6: Trust your mom and dad. Even when you’re scared in the doctor’s office or are frustrated by physical therapy. They love you so much and they will always have your best interest at heart. Be brave, kiddo. 

Age 8: When your classmates ask questions, just remember they are being curious. You are allowed to share as much or as little about your leg as you want. Be kind no matter what.

Age 10: Keep dancing. Keep playing softball. Keep doing what you love.  Always remember that putting your whole heart into what you do is so much more important than how fast you can run or how well you can tap your feet!

Age 12: Phys. Ed is so overrated.

Age 13: Not everyone you meet will understand your story. Adults and children alike will be critical and small-minded. You’re allowed to cry it out. Don’t ever forget that your ability and determination is beautiful. These are the years that are making your skin a little thicker and your heart a little stronger!

Age 16:  Please don’t be so hard on yourself! You spend so much time wondering if your best is good enough. Spoiler alert: It is. Enjoy every minute of your time in the theater and doing what you love. Your happiness on the stage overpowers your limp in the best possible way.

Age 17:  In a few years, you will look back and understand how much this time of your life has shaped the person you are. Cerebral palsy is such an important part of your heart and soul and is nothing to be ashamed of. Your story will take you to some beautiful places and your dreams will come true. Stay strong. And please don’t forget how loved you are.

Age 18: By now you can start to see how your body is affected by spasticity and aging. It’s new and it’s frustrating. One day at a time, Lucy. And if that’s too much, take it one hour at a time. Or 10 minutes at a time. Be patient with your body and soul. You got this.

Age 20: So, you had an iced coffee at 9 p.m. so you could finish studying for that midterm… and now you can’t fall asleep. Hint: this may be a good time to stretch.

Age 21: Don’t fear the future. CP, career, life; it will all work out. 

Age 22 (and beyond): Wherever your life takes you, remember that little girl with the butterfly brace. The girl who ran hard on the softball field even when the rest of her team ran faster. Remember the self-conscious teenager who learned so much about herself on the high school stage. Remember being in your college dorm on the days when your leg hurt so much that you’d rather stay in bed but pushed through and kept studying. Do it all for her. Follow your dreams and make yourself proud.

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Photo by contributor.

Originally published: July 19, 2017
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