I was born with a life-altering disability. Or so, that’s how it’s defined on Google. Nearly 21 years into life, I learned early on that it is only life altering if you let it be.
I was born with a form of Cerebral Palsy that affects my muscles and their spasticity. I don’t walk well, but I can walk. My eyes drift from time to time, but all else allows me to function as the average college student.
I don’t think about being disabled often because it’s all I’ve known my entire life. It’s a normal way of life for me. However, it really started to hit me when I entered college. How could I branch out and really become independent? And even more so, accepted?
Living as a disabled college student is something I’m proud of, but it wasn’t always that way. I came to Palomar three years ago knowing very few people. I had to break out of my shell and learn to walk amongst everyone else as if nothing about me was different. I constantly wondered, what do these people think of me? Do I really belong here?
It wasn’t until a professor early on told me that I was using my disability to get by in my education that a fire was lit inside. Usually, I would be haunted by such a comment. I would question myself, but I learned to block this professor out quickly.
I didn’t let this professor win. I pushed on and forced myself to get involved on campus.
Writing here for The Telescope is something which has validated my place at Palomar. I am put in the uncomfortable position of interviewing people all the time. I have to speak up and stand my ground as a journalist. This has helped me find my place in other courses and ultimately create relationships with people I could not have before.
When someone has a disability, getting involved is not the key to self-appreciation on campus; trusting yourself and moving beyond the norm of societal pressures is.
The key for me was not pigeonholing myself or letting a label set me back. This is not an easy process, anyone with or even without a disability can attest to that. It is a progression and a change of mindset that allowed me to break free of negativity.
Now, Palomar is a second home. I have allowed myself to take a personal risk and make myself known on campus. It has paid off.
This is not about having a disability, this is about becoming yourself at the pace at which only you can allow.
For a long time, I shut out the world and secluded myself because I struggled with self-worth – and to a degree that still exists. I doubt it will ever go away. Life is a challenge, but one I will gladly take on.
Regardless of a particular life situation, you are in the driver seat. It’s your choice to either sit back or engage. Just know, you are never alone. As perfect as so many people seem to be – we all struggle with something.
I didn’t have a say in being disabled. I do have a say in how I let my physical ailments define me. Step out of the box. You are not alone.
- news telescope logo: The Telescope Newspaper | All Rights Reserved