I believe my physical disability is an obstacle, but it does not define who I am; it has brought out the best in me.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation which caused loss of muscle tone and poor balance; my future looked bleak for a while. My young life was filled with repeated physical therapy sessions, and surgeries. The hurdles seemed endless. When I was two years old, a therapist said that my “disability” was so severe that I would never be able to walk on my own. Cerebral Palsy is an obstacle, but I worked around it and marched on.
These words only challenged me to succeed way beyond expectation and I would defy the prognosis. I have always gone the extra mile to accomplish anything I set my mind to. When I was twelve, I had this passionate desire to be a gymnast. I was determined to teach myself to do a front flip on the trampoline. I made the commitment one afternoon to accomplish my goal. My mom said, “There’s no way you’re going to learn to do that in one night; it’s going to take a lot of practice.” At that moment, a new fire surged within me. I wanted nothing more than to prove her wrong. I lost track of time, and three hours later, I accomplished the task with an “I told you so” grin. I have never let anyone set limits to what I can and cannot do.
The term disability is an unfortunate stereotype society uses to set limits for those they believe are less capable. Any time I am in a public place, I receive stares of curiosity. Adults have bent to down to talk to me as if I am incapable of comprehension. Many people assume that I cannot climb stairs and direct me straight to the elevators, but I believe that I am just as capable as anyone else. I refuse to be labeled. There is more to who I am than my outer appearance, and the people in my life who truly care for me, no longer seem to notice my “difference.” My best friend tells me all the time, “Sometimes I forget that you have a problem; it just seems normal to me now. All the qualities of who you are outweigh the fact that you walk a little bit differently. I quickly learned to love your personality, sense of humor and wisdom!” She sees my capabilities.
I truly believe that Cerebral Palsy is also a blessing. I have learned that no obstacle is unconquerable. I have acquired the drive and motivation to accept any challenge. I have gained a positive perspective of the world around me. Accepting this hardship has helped me discover who I really am: a student, daughter, sister, friend, listener, giver, actress, saleswoman, writer, and ice cream and dog lover!