“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”
Change is difficult for everyone, it can be exciting but extremely scary. One thing being disabled has taught me is to embrace change; that sometimes I have to let go of my pride and accept what is.
For most of my life, I have been against assistive devices when it comes to my walking. One of my many disabilities and the one that’s most noticeable is my unsteady gait. Although it has improved over the years with physical therapy, it is something I will always struggle with. My feet tend to drag sometimes or I’ll list to one side or lean back when I mean to step forward. To put it quite simply, there are times when I walk and it looks like I’m drunk although I’m completely sober.
When I first struggled with walking, when I was 8 years old, my dad and I would have huge screaming matches about using a walker to help with my walking. He would never admit it but I usually got my way. I wanted nothing to do with a walker. It got in my way of walking and most importantly, the walker made me different from everyone and I wanted nothing to do with that! The argument was the same for a wheelchair and a cane. Despite the many falls, cuts, bruises, and even broken bones I dealt with while trying to reteach myself to walk, any assistive device was out of the question.
In my mind, I had two legs and they failed me most of the time, but I could still use them and I didn’t want to give up on them. And by using any sort of assistive device, like a walker or a scooter, that would make me different from everyone, people would point and stare, and it would be humiliating. The thought of using an assistive device was like falling backwards instead of moving forward with my life or making a positive change. By using an assistive device, I would finally be accepting my disabilities, letting go of what was, and embracing what is.
So as time for college approached, I started to wonder how with my disabilities, I would ever be able to live on my own, become more independent, and get from one place to another by myself. Somehow, I managed to get through high school without an assistive device but college seemed to almost require one.
I’m not exactly sure what made me change my mind, whether it was my mom’s advice, the opinions of my older brothers or my own realization, but I decided to give a scooter a try; but it was only for college, at least that’s what I told myself, protecting my pride from being hurt.
Years later, I can tell you that was a great decision on my part. I love my scooter and the independence it gave me while I was in college. Where I went, Mount St. Mary’s University, the campus is very hilly and definitely a challenge to get around. Instead of being trapped in one place and unable to maneuver around campus, because of my scooter, I was able to go places, hang out with friends, and meet new people. Because of my scooter, I didn’t have to wait for anyone to help take me from point A to point b; I just hopped on my scooter and went. And when I arrived at my destination, I parked it, took the key, and walked to class or my friend’s or wherever I was heading next.
Being so against assistive devices all my life, I never anticipated loving my scooter as much as I did or viewing it more as a friend rather than an enemy. But what I truly loved about my scooter is how much independence and freedom it gave me. I learned from having a scooter that sometimes you have to let go of your pride, stop worrying about what you can’t control, and embrace change. So when you are faced with an obstacle or feel as though you’re stuck, don’t let your fears or pride keep you from embracing who you are and what is.
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure; to embrace the new”