Sometimes when I tell people that my disability is a gift, they look at me with doubt written all across their faces, as if I'm either delusional or in denial.
I've noticed that people generally feel
more comfortable defining situations as either black or white. And many
individuals outside of the special needs community consider
disabilities to be devastating tragedies—pitch black.
I want to stand on all of the rooftops in the world with a loudspeaker and contradict that notion with every fiber of my being.
Disabilities can be painful,
and on the darkest days, they may seem unbearably challenging, but
they're worth it. They're worth every tear, every fall, every ache.
the end of the day, I couldn't care less about the handicap parking
spaces that so many people joke about. And who cares that I'm allowed to
be late to class when it rains or snows?
No. These "benefits" that people talk about, those mean nothing. Nothing.
are beautiful not because of these petty "privileges," but because of
the life lessons they impart. The challenges that send us to our knees
and threaten to eat us up inside—these very challenges give way to strength, wisdom, and compassion.
I would never trade that away. Disability has shaped me into the person
I am today; it has given me a gift that I can take with me wherever I
Disability has shown me that the purest form of happiness is not our own, but that of others. When
I was a toddler and still unable to walk on my own, simply watching my
brothers chase each other would cause me to shriek with laughter. Their
happiness was my happiness. I have found that the same is true in the
broader context of life; the greatest joys come from helping others and
watching the people we love enjoy the amazing adventure of life.
Disability has shown me patience. People in today's world are so
preoccupied with speed and timelines, milestones and deadlines,
efficiency and shortcuts. But my cerebral palsy has taught me that life
isn't about who is the fastest. The people who rush to complete tasks
and who are preoccupied with deadlines and milestones often miss the
beauty that comes with fighting for something every. single. day, and
they take everyday miracles for granted.
Disability has shown me perseverance. I have learned that
diagnoses mean only so much, and disabilities are less about what we
can't accomplish and more about what we can accomplish. My
cerebral palsy has taught me that perseverance is a magic of its own.
With determination, we can often transcend not only doctors' expectations but
also our own.
Disability has shown me acceptance. Some people look at my
crooked legs and see only brokenness in my clumsy steps...but in truth, I
am so much more than my body, and so are you, disability or not. It
seems that some individuals look at those with disabilities and consider
them to be helpless, pitiable, and inadequate. This couldn't be farther
from the truth. People with disabilities have personalities, quirks, talents,
hopes, and dreams just like everybody else, and we, too, are capable of
changing the world for the better.
I am thankful, so thankful, for the perspective that disability
has brought to my life. Where others see a rainstorm, I see a rainbow.
Not misfortune, not a limitation, not a tragedy.