When I was five, while walking with my mom to the store one Saturday morning, I asked her an unusual but serious question. I asked, “Mom, why was I born this way?” This question was derived from the fact that I was born with one hand. My mother simply replied, “Oh baby, God made you this way. You’re a beautiful and special little girl and you can do whatever you put your mind to. Don’t let this hinder you and keep you from following your dreams.” At this moment, I didn’t realize that I was handicapped. Although I knew I was different (being an individual born with an amputation below the elbow), this was the first time my mother actually talked to me about it. I thank my mom for telling me this, for she and my family have kept me motivated and willing to succeed at all life’s challenges. This is why I believe people should be comfortable with their true selves and know their true abilities.
For me, my family is a significant part of my life helping me to accept and feel comfortable with myself. My parents have been my moral fiber. Because of their patience and diligence, it was easy for me to adapt to simple tasks of everyday life, such as cooking, playing sports, and just being active. For example, they were always there with me when we would travel four hours to a hospital to get my prostheses (artificial limbs), which helped me cook, ride my bike, play my trumpet, and sports such as baseball. My mother, while in the kitchen cooking, would tell me to go and get my prosthesis so I could help and get familiar with tasks I will be doing in the future, like any other girl.
My parents have also given me the confidence to be myself and not let my handicap overwhelm my abilities. I remember one day I was playing on the neighborhood playground when some kids came up to me and asked: “Hey girl. What happened to your hand?” I was reluctant to answer at first, but then I remembered my mom telling me that people are going to be curious and ask the question. So, I told the kids I was born with one arm, knowing that they wouldn’t fully comprehend. It seemed to me that the kids didn’t mind because, after I told them this, they asked if they could play with me. On that day, I realized that I’m like any other kid, enjoying the same life. From that day on, I made it a custom to tell my classes about my arm and prosthesis at the beginning of every school year to make kids comfortable around me.
My mother has always told me that with motivation and determination I can be anything that I want to be; no one can hold me back except myself. I understood I had to look past my handicap, and find any talents I may have and strive to be the best I can be in spite of my condition. All I wanted and still want is to live my life knowing I make an effort to succeed at anything I put my mind to. By playing softball, I’m living this dream. When I’m playing softball, I feel that I’m like the other girls; this gives me a sense of accomplishment. There is no handicap barrier stopping me from playing the game that I love. Playing softball has taught me that no one should be limited to what they can do. Everyone should have the opportunity, with support and mental encouragement, to excel at any task-physical or not.
I know that are many individuals struggling with the same issues I have, and are also overcoming unlikely odds. Only that person knows their true abilities and should not let a handicap encumber achieving their dreams. As my mother says, “With motivation and determination, you can achieve so much.” I believe that with this willpower one can experience how powerful the mind and spirit can truly be.
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