Me, Myself & I – Alienated, Isolated & Liberated

September 27, 2012 1:15 pm

What do you see, when you look at me? At times, people only see a chair with four wheels. Wheels that I use in replacement for my legs. So, if you think about it, I’m just like you. The only distinction is we walk differently. This is the story of a woman, who encouraged people to look beyond her disability, and recognise her as a woman with capabilities. That woman is me!

To celebrate the Paralympics 2012, I want to keep the spirit alive by holding onto the Paralympic torch up high, just like the Statue of Liberty in New York City. OK. I’m not as talented as the Paralympic contestants  Here I am presenting an interview with myself. Yes, you read correctly! Myself and those who surround me.

It’s never easy living with a disability. Of course, people who aren’t wearing the same shoes as the ‘challenged’ individual, often see it from a biased perspective. At least from my experience, “You’ve got it all” they’d say. “There’s always someone around to do things for you”. This is coming from people, who are complete strangers to the day-to-day life of a disabled person. Such a stranger, that they’re completely unaware they have the wrong end of the stick. We, as disabled individuals actually crave to pursue a “normal” life. That is, if normality is even in existence. What is ‘normal’? The way you look at it doesn’t matter at all. Able-bodied people are no different to the disabled. In fact, they are also challenged. Challenged by their perspective to change, and understand that disabled people shouldn’t be looked down upon.

It’s funny; I never felt like I was below anyone – as if people who could walk were better than me. At a young age, I never took my disability seriously. I never realised living with Cerebral Palsy (CP) could be so challenging. What was it that made my disability invisible? My academic career began in a special needs school in central London. I spent 13 years of my life completing primary, and secondary in the same building. It was easy for me to ignore my condition. Wherever I turned, everyone was wearing the same shoes as me. There was no reason for me to feel out of place. It was almost as if I was hiding in my shell. 13 years later, that shell cracked open. It was then, I realised I entered the ‘real’ world.

The moment I stepped into a college that consisted of able-bodied students; for the first time, I felt alienated, isolated, let alone scared. I was out of my comfort zone!

I’m not going to lie; at times I did feel like a towel being hung out to dry. The older I got, the more I began to realise this wasn’t something to ignore. People looking at you left, right and centre. I was, and sometimes still am, a shy character. A voice inside of me told me to stand back, and just watch. Of course, I didn’t go through college and university without any friends. There is a selected few that noticed my personality and disregarded the four-wheeled chair I use on a daily basis. I had a chance to let my personality shine through, and that’s what made me stronger!  “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!” it’s true, I stand by that saying everyday. Those are the people, who know the ‘real’ me, the people I keep in my circle of trust! I’m overwhelmed with happiness to be surrounded by people, who inspire, motivate and has given me the strength to go on with my life. They are the reason as to why I am able to show the world what I am capable of. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When you’re surrounded by people, who sincerely believe in you to the moon and back; you know you can do anything you set your mind to! I was fortunate to see that mystical shimmering white light at the end of the tunnel. My family and friends have led me through dark pathways of life, and continued to motivate me, just so I could make it through college, and finally become a university graduate in Media studies during the year of 2009.

Once I held that diploma in my hand, I knew l didn’t need any further proof or reasoning to believe in myself. I felt I accomplished a lifetime of challenges. Of course, it wasn’t always fine and dandy, but who said life would be? There have been ups and downs in my life. People have seen the rise and fall of this disabled woman. – So much so, I almost gave up on my dream of becoming a successful journalist. Another thing on my list of accomplishments was to see my name on the by-line of an article. Over a year later, I found myself giving all my energy in pursuing my ultimate career goal. Catch 22 put the icing on the cake; it was my birthday all over again! I felt liberated, overwhelmed with a ton of emotions that’s impossible to canvas on a blank sheet of paper! I’m on a journey that was inconsistent in the beginning. Now, it’s slowly and smoothly continues together with my family, friends, and best of all my determination to be the best that I can be!

Being disabled is nothing to be ashamed of. We all come in different shapes and sizes. It’s what makes us special. If we were all the same on earth; life would be boring. Be proud to be different!  When you look in the mirror, believe that you’re different for a reason. God gave you a life so that you accomplish what you can. No one is expecting anything more. Ignore the people that stand in your way!

I consider my disability to be a gift. If God takes one thing away, something in return is given back. Don’t decline that gift; embrace it with all your heart and soul!

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