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How I'm Balancing My Adulthood Goals With Cerebral Palsy

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I realize that everyone is different and has their own personal struggles. At some point in just about everyone’s life they are going to have a physical aliment that requires attention and a certain amount of rehabilitation. This is how I view my cerebral palsy. Some physical challenges that are kind of a pain to tend to and take care of. I am very self reliant, independent (physically and emotionally) and I don’t really consider myself disabled or challenged by the obstacles of what life has to offer. If there is something I physically can’t do, I ask for help, even though sometimes that is hard to do. There isn’t anything standing in my way of a full complete life.

I realize that looking at the bigger picture I am a minority. Not everyone has a life-long physical disability. People still view me differently than the average person because my speech is different and I walk differently. I am amazed at how I tend to react to people who make my differences a big deal. I think they are a little weird and I become a bit more standoffish to them than other people who don’t make my differences an issue. Even when people want to put me on a pedestal for the person they think I am, I get a little weirded out.

I consider myself no different than a person who is overweight and has lost a lot of weight, or people of a different skin color or ethnic group, or people who have struggled with a mental illness and had to overcome extra barriers to succeed. I don’t want to make a big deal about my physical diagnosis because frankly I have better things to think about and worry about.

However, no matter how much I like to ignore the fact that I am disabled, it’s still there and will always be there.  It’s there for me like an annoying ex-husband you share custody of kids with, or like college debt.  It always has to be considered in certain decisions I make and that’s OK. I’m more prone to becoming tired and pretty sore throughout my body.  I use almost double the energy a woman my age does to complete tasks. Sometimes I wonder if I actually feel 38 or 43 years old instead of my actual age. It takes me longer to walk to my car, get dressed or to eat.
Again, I am not complaining. But lately it has been a reality check of what my expectations are for myself and what my actual lifestyle will look like over the next several years. I remember my mom keeping tabs on this for me as a child. When I first hit adulthood at 18 I realized full-time college, a part-time job and socializing until 2 a.m. on the weekends wasn’t for me. I feel like I am going to have it all, but just not all at once. My body just won’t allow for it.
I feel like my cerebral palsy is a pesky, annoying mishap that just happened to me. To put it bluntly, it’s my baggage. I would not be the person I am without it. It has made me more mature, more humble and a more empathetic person. I wouldn’t trade it for some other pesky, annoying life challenge. I feel like I have the personality and attitude to handle it or conquer it with grace.

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Originally published: April 11, 2017
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