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How to Choose Your Own Adventure With a Disability in 2019

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Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure (CYA) books from the 80s and 90s? I know I’m totally dating myself, but I was soooo into them (for about a minute) in between Judy Bloom books and the “Sweet Valley High” series.
Group of classic Choose Your Own Adventure books.

The CYA books were told in second person, and after an initial story was outlined, you could flip to your page of choice to determine how the story would unfold and end. Most books had 20-plus possible happy and not-so-happy endings to choose. Unlike other genres, the reader was given a sense of power and freedom to determine the story’s path and ultimately the fate of its characters.

So, I was thinking (this always gets an “oh no” when said out loud in my house) let’s forgo making the same clichéd New Year’s resolutions again this year that we’ll inevitably beat ourselves up about breaking by month’s end. Instead, why don’t we try treating 2019 like it’s our very own Choose Your Own Adventure story? We can decide who we want to be in 2019 and create the life we want as people living with invisible (or visible) disabilities. What do you think? If you’re in, let’s start by creating an outline for your new story.

The Title of Your Story

What will you call your 2019 adventure story? I like to come up with a title before writing any content as it helps me formulate my overall message. When deciding on the title, the most important question to ask yourself is, “who is my story for?”

People with chronic conditions and disabilities often feel guilty and unworthy because of their perceived limitations and as a result, they may prioritize others’ interests before their own wants and needs. Some people with physical challenges stay home feeling sorry for themselves, and watch as family members and friends try new experiences and live. If this has been your story in previous years, it’s time to rewrite it or throw it away and start over. It got horrible reviews on Amazon anyhow.

The title of your new adventure story should reflect the awesome person you are today (not who you once were pre-disability) or who you want to become. Remember, you are the creator and sole hero of this new story, so it’s up to you to create a title that will grab your own attention. For example, check out my story’s title: “The Untold Tale of a Fearless Woman Who Lives Her Best Life in 2019.” It’s good, right? So what will you call your adventure story?

The Characters

Every great hero needs a supporting cast of characters that lift her up and allow her to sparkle. When you have an invisible disability, it is especially important to surround yourself with positive, empathetic people that accept you unconditionally.

Take a minute to think about the people in your life…

Who brings out the best in you? Who do you enjoy spending time with?

Who in your life are you most authentic with?

Who are your finish line friends?

You have the power to choose who gets a significant role in your new adventure story. I know what you’re thinking —  some characters can’t be written off so easily, like your in-laws or siblings. But you can choose who gets speaking parts in your story, right?

We may not be able to control other people, but we can control how we let others affect how we feel about ourselves. My new story will have fewer fluffy type characters than in past stories (beginning with a Facebook cleanse) as I’m going to focus on the relationships that matter. I also want to leave room in my story for new characters.

The Plot

You are your most important reader and it’s up to you to create a new story that fits your style and excites you. Of course, you can just play it safe and copy and paste the same predictable story you’ve written before. Or you can get out of your comfort zone and see where the adventures take you.

As you develop the plot, ask yourself these questions:

Am I living my best life?

Do I let my disability define what I can and cannot do?

What needs to change in my life in order for me to be the best version of myself?

The best plots are unpredictable and exciting. They are also not linear and tend to have many twists and turns. There will be days that are harder than others, but keep moving forward. Like all great adventure stories, there is never just one ending or path to get to the pot of gold or find true love.

The Conclusion

We may not be able to control our disabilities, but we can decide how we want to live our lives with them. After outlining your new adventure story, it’s time to start living it. No skimming the chapters or skipping to the end; it is the experiences along the way that matter most and lead you to choose the best ending.

This story originally appeared on Trend-Able.

Getty image by fcscafeine.

Originally published: January 8, 2019
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