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3 Things I've Learned as I Get Older With Cerebral Palsy

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I have learned to love the way life constantly evolves; circumstances we thought were so terrible slowly begin to reveal their purpose in our lives in the most beautiful of ways. Experiences work to propel us forward and strengthen our resolve. I love to think of life with cerebral palsy as a unique version of that same natural evolution of character and tenacity. We as people with disabilities develop and evolve into strong individuals as a result of aging. Now, I’m only 25 so why would I write about aging with cerebral palsy?

Well, at this age I have felt such a shift in how I view the world and those around me. I feel as though turning 26 in a couple of months has begun to show through my newly discovered mindset. I want to show younger people with disabilities that there will be a time when you won’t care what others think of you. You’ll wake up and realize how foolish it was to try to “fit in” with the in crowd, when it would have been just as suitable to be yourself.

I have found a lot of joy in my life through these last couple of years, and I’ve gained a lot of wisdom. I still don’t know everything, and I haven’t experienced nearly as much as some people, but I do think I have some valuable insights to share today. I know when I was a lot younger, my mother used to tell me I’d get to where I’d see circumstances through older eyes and I never believed her. Guess what? She was right!

So today, I want to share the three biggest ways I feel I have started to evolve during these last couple of years: I have developed the “I don’t care who thinks what” attitude, I genuinely accept myself, and I have learned to identify as just “Molly.”

1) Indifference of opinions. Indifference of opinions is a fancy way of saying I now have the “I don’t care who thinks what” attitude. I found myself rather shocked to realize this as it has literally come about in the last year or so. Growing up, I had such a dependence on people and I wanted so badly to be part of a group. I was still trying to “fit in” at the age of 22. I couldn’t stand myself. I longed for normalcy, or what I thought normalcy was supposed to be. I’m now almost 26, and that way of thinking is long gone; it feels as though I’ve entered a new class, a new era.

Friendships are easier to make now because I like who I am. I do not need validation, recognition, or attention from those around me to provide me with that blissful existence. I live happily just by being myself. I look back and cringe at some of the experiences I’ve gone through, but I also remember they worked for my good, and developed me into who I am today. I have a suspicion that 36 and beyond will be interesting as I’m excited to see where God takes me and what else He teaches me.

2) Self-acceptance is not an issue. As I stated previously, I genuinely love who I’ve become. I love everything about my life; I have been abundantly blessed. I am constantly becoming more independent, and I feel what has helped me with self-acceptance the most is that I am building a career now and I do have a valuable purpose. Life has become exciting and fun; I am full of ambition and happiness. Depression has exited my soul, as what internally wrecked my existence for so many years has come to seem ridiculous: A) flaws within myself that I now love, B) petty thoughts that don’t amount to anything, and C) issues I no longer care about.

The process of building self-acceptance and the amount of time it takes to arrive at this point in life with a disability is different for everyone. We are all on unique paths in life, but I promise you it does eventually get sweeter and being you becomes easier to deal with. Just hang tight and keep pushing forward!

3) Not letting cerebral palsy define who I am. As I am becoming older, I no longer wish to identify as the inspirational girl with cerebral palsy. Don’t get me wrong: the support I’ve had over the last few years with my writing career has been wonderful and I am so happy that I have inspired so many, both able-bodied and not. Moving forward in 2018, I just want to be known as “Molly the writer.” I have been doing great so far with keeping up my weekly post new year’s resolution, (aside from being ill this past week, but I will get caught up this weekend, I promise!) I have grown tired of writing so much about cerebral palsy, because it is just a tiny fraction of who I am. I’d love to try new topics, posts unrelated to my disability. I have a few great ideas lined up for the rest of February.

I don’t want to dwell on something that doesn’t fully describe who Molly is. My mindset has gotten me to focus on venturing past what really doesn’t matter; it does not mean anything that I have cerebral palsy. Everyone has something they struggle with. I want to inspire people not to be surprised when they accomplish something wonderful. Never underestimate yourself. Society subconsciously conditions us to think we are not capable of much, when in reality we probably have more inner strength and determination than most.

I believe you can succeed if you never let your mind entertain the notion of “I can’t.” You most certainly can. Never give up. You never know what you could be missing out on. Life is truly what you make of it; live the fullest of days you can.

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Getty image by Cidepix.

Originally published: February 5, 2018
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