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To the Lady Who Assumed I Was Comfortable With My Disability

To the lady who assumed I was comfortable with having cerebral palsy and content in my own skin, I have this to say…

Living with my disability has given me a lot of ups and downs. Some days I am confident, other days I am angry, and then there are the days where I just cry, asking God “why me?” I haven’t quite mastered what it means to be a person with a physical disability, and I believe I never will because I am constantly discovering new things about myself. But what I can say for sure is that at some point, whether they have a disability or not, just about everyone has struggled with being comfortable in their own skin.

My willingness to open up about this came about after attending a conference focused on people with disabilities and employment, where I was honored to sit on the panel and discuss my experience. Afterward, I attended a tour of the facility where the conference took place. While waiting for the tour to start, I found myself in a conversation about people with disabilities being comfortable in our skin. A lady then proceeded to say to me, “I know you’re comfortable in your skin,” to which I replied, “Sometimes I am not.”

She seemed a bit taken aback by my response. It was as if she assumed I would be comfortable having my disability. She just looked at me with bright eyes and smiled, and then told me she has a daughter who has cerebral palsy.

I am slowly beginning to believe God created me this way for a reason, and it has taken me some time to become comfortable in my skin. If I am being honest, I’m not completely there. I have goals, dreams, and fears. My fears tend to surface a lot more than my goals or dreams. Like the fear of meeting new people, whether it be platonic or dating, and having to feel as if I should explain my disability each time. Or if I’m traveling, having to make sure the facility is wheelchair accessible. Or explaining to my 7 and 9-year-old cousins why sometimes people may stare at me and that they shouldn’t feel upset or sad about it. And I struggle with the fear of feeling vulnerable, sharing a part of myself for all to read and provide their opinions if they choose to do so — like I am doing now.

It takes time to get to a place of peace and understanding, of knowing that having a disability isn’t the end of the world. It just means you have to do things a bit differently. One of the things I’ve noticed recently that I haven’t seen in past years is that more people with disabilities are sharing their stories and getting out to see all that the world has to offer. There’s no longer as much of a disconnect, or feeling of not being accepted or having things accessible. Granted, nothing is perfect and we still have a ways to go, but I see progress being made.

So to the lady who assumed I was comfortable in my own skin, comfortable with having a disability, I say thank you — because you helped me to openly face something I have had difficulty with expressing out loud.

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