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When I Realized I'm Lucky as a Person With a Disability

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It could have been worse. Over the past four years, this has become something of a mantra for me.

Bad mark on an assignment? It could have been worse, I’d tell myself.

Bad day on placement? It could have been worse.

Bad day at work? It could have been worse.

Bad day with cerebral palsy? Yes, it could have been worse.

My condition is mild, and for that I am extremely grateful. But I haven’t always thought this way. Even though I spent school in a state of deliberate, unwavering ignorance of my disability, the label of cerebral palsy nonetheless consumed me. School was a context in which I felt all my flaws seemed to be magnified a million times more, and the annoying little voice reminding me of my omnipresent label grew louder and more insistent in my mind.

Some days, I still grapple with that little voice, trying to suppress it, starting my internal monologue about how I can look beyond the label to the things I can do, instead of those with which I struggle. As true as that convenient little inner script is, the thing that has helped me silence that annoying little voice is perspective, garnered over time, as I’ve learned a little more, lived a little more and hopefully grown just a little bit wiser.

I think I gained the most insight when I started teaching. I realized my disability was not as debilitating as I had built it up to be. In fact, my life was not as awful as I thought it was. Instead, I realized just how lucky I am. I can talk, walk and don’t need physical assistance. I’m fortunate enough to have one tertiary degree under my belt, and to be starting another. I’m earning an income independently, and have a close network of family and friends.

Motivated by my newfound sense of gratitude and the drive to do something meaningful, tangible and effectual for others who might find themselves in a similar position, I discovered The Mighty. I realized that using this forum to share my story, experiences, hopes and ideas could act as my “call to arms” for those around me. An opportunity to do more than advocacy. A chance to educate, to empathize and to engender a new, more humanized view of myself and others like me to the rest of the world.

How lucky am I?

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Originally published: January 11, 2017
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