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Constantly Trying to 'Prove Myself' as a Person With a Disability

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I struggle with the constant feeling of trying to prove myself, the “I’m strong enough” feeling, the “if they can do it, so can I.” I’m sure everyone feels like this at some point in their life, but for me, this is nearly an everyday occurrence. It never goes away. It’s always there in the back of my mind — that I am not doing enough, that I am not enough. That I am somehow “less” because of my disability.

Whether it is academically, creatively or physically, I am always pushing myself to do better, to be better and to try and get on the same level as my able-bodied competition. I tried to hide my body twitching and straining under the pressure for most of my teenage life, in P.E. class or fitness classes just so no one would comment. When someone did comment on my technique or movement being “strange” or “weird” I recoiled away, brushed off their comment and got back to pushing myself. Pushing myself to be more “normal.”

It was a lot easier than explaining the situation, and even nowadays, I still fall into that
default reaction. I feel like the playing field has never been level and now I take every advantage I can get. I used to be embarrassed of these advantages, but now I take them in my stride because if the extra support is there, why not take all I can get?

This also leads to some strange sense of guilt if I don’t succeed, whether it be academically or career-wise. I feel like I have let people down and wasted the resources given to me. It’s a hard balance to teeter. I always find myself asking myself  “Was I good enough in that audition or that interview, or did they just take pity on me?” These questions play on a constant loop in my head; they never stop.

It’s a struggle to deal with, but I’m learning to be kinder to myself and to know that I only need validation from myself. I don’t need to prove myself because I am enough.

Originally published: June 10, 2018
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