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To the People Who Didn't Believe in Me Because of My Rare Disorder

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This may sound odd, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you for not believing in me. I’m about to graduate from college, and some of you who knew me from my very first breath in this world didn’t think I should be able to walk, talk or eat. But here I am, and believe me, I can walk the walk, talk the talk and eat like a pig.

I was diagnosed at a young age with a rare disorder called cerebrocostomandibular syndrome. I was told if I survived the surgeries I faced, puberty would kill me eventually.

Emily Durrant

Growing up, I did my best to fit in with the crowd. I had little moments not every kid experienced in school, such as a nurse walking with you and telling you that you can’t play kickball in gym class. But I was determined to be like everyone else.

Many of us grow up with our parents telling us not to be like everyone else, but I craved it. There were moments when I was crying and screaming at my parents because I wasn’t like everyone else. I eventually grew up and understood I can’t change who I am so I need to be the best version of me that I can be.

As I grew up, the not believing in me didn’t stop. It continued. It continued to the point where I understood what you were telling me. When doctors told me I shouldn’t be alive, I had no idea what they were saying; I was just a baby fighting to survive. But when I was 16 sitting in an office with my guidance counselor who was telling me I may or may not do well in college, that’s when a fire lit up inside of me. I was determined to prove you wrong.

So here’s the thing: I’m not mad at you for not believing in me. I should feel anger but I don’t. You told me I wouldn’t last in college. Maybe you thought I would drop out because I wouldn’t make friends, or maybe you thought the classes would be too hard. Yes, classes are hard in college, and yes, making friends isn’t easy for me, but I survived just like every other college kid.

So when I accept my diploma, I’ll actually be proud of myself, and maybe I’ll feel a little more pride than some of my peers. I’ll remember how I was told I wasn’t supposed to be here, but I was determined to make myself known to the world. Although I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in the next couple months, I know I’m just going to keep climbing the mountain.

Follow this journey on Emily’s Journey.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 10, 2016
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