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Learning to Embrace Ourselves, Disability and All

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As someone with mild cerebral palsy I have gone through a lot of stuff leading up to this point in my life. I have what is considered a “mild case” of a disability that has come to shape a large portion of my life. My journey with this condition has been a trek consisting of many hills and even more mountains I have had to overcome. It is only now at 20 years of age that I am starting to connect all of the dots.

My CP has always been there. There were times when nobody recognized it as something deserving of extra help, times I neglected to acknowledge that it existed, and even more times when I got a little too much attention because of something I could not control. From a young age I developed this super secret ability called “acting normal” or trying to fit in. As a young child I could often be found hiding behind my mother’s legs or refusing to engage in adult conversations for fear of the questions people might ask me. It didn’t take me very long to figure out that the things I went through weren’t understood by everybody else, and I wanted nothing more desperately than to be considered “normal.”

For a little while this task seemed pretty straightforward: keep up with all the other things kids are “supposed” to do and blend in with everyone else. When you get older, things get a little more complicated. That’s when you get to workplaces, social situations and responsibilities where the world really does expect you to step up to the plate and reach your quota of “normal” societal contributions. For me, this took place through school and work. I’ve always felt like if I reached my career goals and showed everyone I could get where I wanted, everything would fall into place. But when I look back, I really wish I had someone to show me it was OK to be different. Someone to explain that being a good person has nothing to do with fitting into the mold.

I’m tired of others acting like my CP burdens my entire life and the lives of the people around me. I believe God made every single person for a reason and specific purpose, and the purpose of those of us who were made a little bit different was not to hide ourselves from everyone else. I don’t want to be the reason a little girl grew up without seeing a single person who walked a little bit different and talked a little bit different being happy. We need to show the next generations how wonderful we are exactly the way we’re made. The world needs to know we are as wonderful and beautiful as everyone else, and we are the only ones who can do it.

You were never made to run away from your problems. You were made to embrace them. Run headlong into the spotlight and show everyone what a real disability warrior looks like. Prove to all the little girls and boys it’s OK for them to embrace who they are. You are beautiful — go out there and show them!

Getty image by Your Time to Shine.

Originally published: August 5, 2018
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