As I try to find my way in the world post college, being physically disabled, I’ve noticed there are number of obstacles I must overcome before I can live the life that society says most young adults should have; moving away from home, living with other young adults, working hard, and playing harder.
Well, sorry society but you’re expectations do not fit my life at all.
Like most college graduates, I found it difficult to re-adjusting to life at home and applied to a million jobs but never heard back from a majority of them. I missed my friends like something fierce and spent my time lamenting over the good old days or wondering if my life would ever be as awesome as it was at the Mount. (I know, a little dramatic but it’s the truth!)
After months of watching my friends go on to succeed in the real world and comparing myself to them, I realized that I couldn’t live like this any longer. I needed to be more positive about my life and in order to change my life, it had to start with me and fixing my bad attitude .
First of all, you should never compare yourself to anyone! I know, way easier said than done. But seriously, can you imagine a world where everyone is exactly alike? That would be so boring! We are made to be unique. Just be who you are, there’s nothing more beautiful than that.
I recently started physical therapy again. Now I’m sure you’re wondering why this really matters or what’s the point behind this but for most people who know me, you probably understand how this is a big deal. I mentioned earlier that I am physically disabled. After being diagnosed with brain cancer at age 5, I underwent two major surgeries within three years to remove the tumor. However, much like me, the tumor was stubborn and six weeks after the second surgery, it had grown back. I was forced to undergo radiation treatments which destroyed my cancer but left me physically disabled and nearly killed me. Less than a year after the radiation, I could not crawl, I could not walk, I lost all of my motor functions, and I barely could do anything on my own.
It was at that point my doctors told me I would die within weeks.
My parents are both very determined and stubborn so you can say the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. We never were willing to accept what the doctors said and after countless hours of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, I regained strength in my body, retaught myself to walk, and to live again. I pushed myself beyond my limits and no matter the outcome, I stayed positive, hopeful, and always had faith.
So why does this all matter? Well years ago, when I retaught myself to walk, my therapists were so worried about just getting me up on my feet, mostly because I refused to use a wheelchair or a walker, that they never really worried about making sure I had the correct foot placement or if I was using the correct muscles. As a result of this, I have developed some very bad walking habits over the past 16 years.
This is something I have noticed with age and started to become almost self-conscious about how I walked. Not that I walk weird but my gait is slightly different than everyone else. This summer,my mom and I made it our mission to find a neuro-therapist and we were successful! I am now breaking my bad habits and re-teaching myself to walk a third and hopefully the last time! Within my first couple of sessions, I noticed so many changes. My therapist pointed out how I walk with my knees, not my hips which causes me to walk in what I think looks like a triangle. I also just got these lovely AFOs (ankle fitted orthotics) that will keep my feet from turning out when I walk, can’t wait to wear them out in public and pick up some guys.
The bottom line is that i am focusing on myself and improving who I am. Yes, there are times where I want to give up on myself or I wish I could trade my life for someone else’s or think “they’re my age and look at what they’re doing with their lives, what am I doing?!” But it is important to stay positive and to focus on the good things in your life. Like the Facebook challenge, try to find at least one positive thing each day and you’ll be surprised how much it will change your life.
It doesn’t matter how ridiculous I look to others in those orthotics (people stare at my feet anyway) or if I am not doing what society thinks is best for me, I am doing what is best for me and will help me in the long run by improving my walking and helping me to become more confident in myself.
“Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.”
― Thomas L. Holdcroft