Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get used to being a person with a disability. Is that something that somebody can "get used to?"
A few months ago, I was relating a story to one of my friends about a situation that I had dealt with earlier in the day.
"I was halfway to orgo lab when I realized that I left my lab notebook in my room and I had to walk all the way back and get it! I ended up being ten minutes late to class but the lab professor still let me take the quiz!" [The policy is that if you're late to chemistry lab, you get a zero on the pre-lab quiz.]
My friend nodded, confused at my tone of surprise. "Well, yeah. I would have let you take it too."
"Really?" I was shocked.
She started to laugh, then motioned to my legs with her eyes. I followed her gaze and only then did I "get it."
"You can't really run across campus to get back to your dorm room. You had the perfect excuse for being late!"
I started laughing too, because it had never even crossed my mind that I had an excuse.
I remembered this story because of something that happened this morning. This has been one of the snowiest winters we've had in years, and as I was walking to class with one of my friends, I stumbled on the snowy pathway leading from my dorm. I caught myself in a snowbank and leaned on a mound of snow to help me keep my balance until we reached clean pavement. If it sounds awkward to you—yeah, it was—but I didn't think much of it because at this point, awkward is kind of my life. ;)
"Sometimes I think my life should have some heroic music playing in the background, with a couple of slow-mo scenes thrown in," I joked to my friend as we continued on our way.
After my class (a genetics exam! It was a crazy day.), I opened up Yik Yak on my phone. (For those of you who don't know what Yik Yak is, it's a social media app in which people within a 10 mile radius from each other can anonymously read and post comments.) The top Yak was something along the lines of: "Get it together, [name of my college.] How about you shovel the pathways so the disabled students don't fall? I just saw a girl fall because of the lack of shoveled snow."
It took me a few moments to realize that this comment was specifically referring to ME. I wasn't offended by it (quite the contrary; I think this person was well-intentioned), but I don't think I'll ever get used to being a "disabled student." I simply don't think of myself as "disabled," and I don't know if I ever will.
As I find my place in this world, I'm discovering that the more I accept my disability as part of who I am, the more I realize just how ABLE I am.