How do you feel about your disability?
Blog from Emily Shaw, Youth Independent Living Specialist
How do you feel about your disability? I have been through a wide range of emotions when it comes to this. I went through a phase where I wanted to try to run away from it, or deny it. I did not want to talk about my disability or recognize that part of my identity in any way.
My parents always encouraged me to play wheelchair sports or join in different social events. The way they encouraged me was to make me. But, I actually found that I enjoyed the sports because we never talked about being different, we were just us. Some of us were better at basketball than others. I wasn’t great, but I like to think I played a pretty mean defense.
And slowly, through forcible participation in social activities, I came to a point where I accepted my disability. There were other teenagers like me, and we could talk about our undeniable feelings about our disabilities. A lot of us were being made fun of in school, so we could talk about being angry and hurt. I eventually made some good friends.
I found that with acceptance of my disability came unrestrained power. I started coming out of my shell and goofing off with my best friend. I had also always been interested in music, but too afraid to share this part of myself. Well, I began writing songs and actually singing them for people. This was a turning point in learning to love all of myself, disability and all.
I tell you my story about denial to acceptance, in order for you to kind of search inside yourself and see where you are on this spectrum. Are you all the way there to pure acceptance? Or do you sometimes struggle with this part of your identity? This is definitely a growing process that takes more time for some than others. I would encourage you to join in as many activities as possible; you might be surprised what you find.
It will also be important for you to make as many decisions for yourself, as you get older. This is called “self-advocacy.” Make the choice to be proud of who you are and take charge of your own life, as you get older. This is the place that it has taken me awhile to get to, but it is very important and empowering. Blog