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Dear Disability Warriors: You Matter

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I have a learning disability and I use a wheelchair. I read slowly and have slow comprehension. For many years I flipped my letters and numbers around and spent five years in high school. My freshman year of college also took five years to get through, but I made it. Today people tell me I should just give up. I should give up on an education because of my disability. I’m too sick to work, so why go to school? I’m in school because education is more than just preparing for the workforce. For me it’s about learning and growing. It’s about this desire to never stop learning because my whole life I have felt “stupid,” like I don’t know anything, so there is a world of knowledge I want to soak up.

In school I was the shy kid that was bullied. I didn’t fit in anywhere, but in books, in history I could find amazing stories. I traveled to past battlefields and learned not only who I want to be but also who I can become despite these disabilities.

Today they tell me I should just give up on life because I’ll never amount to anything, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Someone’s value does not come in sizes; it does not come in how much manual labor they can offer this world. I believe our value was predetermined by a loving Savior. Our value is subjective. One day you could be working in the job force and the next too sick or injured and unable to do the work any longer. That does not mean your value is suddenly gone. It does not mean your life is not worth fighting for, because we still need your perspective, your thoughts, your impressions on subjects you are passionate about. You can still make a difference in this world, even if you can’t do what you were doing before.

They tell me because I’m disabled I should just give up. I’ll never amount to anything because I can’t walk as much as I used to be able to. They say I am physically unable to do the things I did before, so my value is diminished. But this is not true. Is the one with Down syndrome, autism, or Rett syndrome less valuable, or worthless? No, because they each see the world in a unique way. They bring beauty and happiness into the lives of their loved ones. I have seen a girl with Down syndrome climb a rock wall and refuse to give up even though it was difficult. She taught her family to love unconditionally, to be kind and a little more loving. I have seen girls who can’t speak light up the world. I have seen girls who can’t walk shoot for the stars and succeed. I believe disabled is just another word for “changing the world” because among the disabled are those who inspire us to be better, to improve ourselves, to be a little nicer, to love a little more freely.

So if you are among the disabled community like me, please don’t give up. If you have a learning disability, try not to be too hard on yourself. Think about just learning one new thing every day and go from there. Knowledge is a journey, not a destination for something greater. The greatest reward of all is the growth that comes with learning. If you can’t speak, continue to shine right where you are. Your beautiful smile and personality shine so much brighter than you can imagine. If you can’t walk, please try to hold your head up high and roll on because you are amazing and awesome. If you can’t hear, make the world hear you, because you still have so much to offer. Share with us the unique perspectives you have from living without sound, because I’m sure you understand things those of us who can hear don’t always understand. If you can’t see don’t be afraid to bring the beauty you can feel to the world. We can always use more beauty in this world.

Most of all, remember this world needs each of us. This world needs our unique perspectives. Whether we work or are unemployed, we still matter. We are still more loved, valued and cherished than we may sometimes realize. If anyone tells you that you are worthless or will never amount to anything, remember you are worth more than all the precious things of this world. You are enough, you are of worth, you are cherished and you are loved. Hang in there, and remember, for what it’s worth I believe in you.


a fellow disability warrior

Getty image by L. Gorlgorevich.

Originally published: September 26, 2018
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