Redefining Disability


Disability. It is an interesting word and one that many of us feel we cannot relate to. For nearly 19 years of my life, I was never classified as someone with a disability, until one day, in literally a split second everything I knew changed and I was now classified as an individual with a physical disability.

I was just 18, two months shy of my 19th birthday and literally in the blink of an eye my world as I knew it changed. For months I had a hard time identifying with my "new" body. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, self-conscious, unsure, fearful and most of all confused. In a single moment I had gone from someone who could easily get lost in a crowd, to someone who will never blend in again.

For months I felt like something was now wrong with me. I found myself in a period of "soul searching" like never before and that is when I realized it is simple, we all have disabilities.

That single moment on January 21, 2008 changed me in many ways, but most of all it changed how I looked at the world. I realized that although I now had a physical disability, I suffered from disability before my injury and everyone around me suffers from it as well. Disability is defined as the inability to perform one or more natural activities; with examples being walking and seeing.

Although think about that for just a moment, how many times in our lives do we lose sight of reality due to fear? Sure, it may not be the actually physical ability to see the world around you; however, it is because we have a skewed sense of reality, we are unable to truly see what is around us. My point being, we are all disabled, every single one of us, every person around us battles with disability. Sure, some may be more obvious than others, but I believe it is often the most hidden disabilities that have the ability to disable us the most.

From January 21, 2008 on, I have been different in many individuals' eyes; my physical appearance changed, my way in which I got about changed as well. I became the receiver of comments you can't even begin to repeat, all because what... I can't walk? For a long time I couldn't make sense of it and now nearly 7 years later for the most part I don't even notice it. However, I am no different then the rest of you around me, because although I am disabled, so are you.

Disabilities can range from physical, to mental, to emotional, to spiritual, to financial, to familial and the list goes on, but disabilities can only disable us if we allow them to. I may not walk, but I wheel and my wheels take me places my legs never did. We as human beings have an amazing ability to adapt, to challenge expectation and to redefine limitations.

Every day we are faced with a choice - whether we overcome or succumb to the adversities in our lives. Adversities, obstacles and limitations are daily encounters for all of us, but there comes a point when we must make a choice, do we press forward and redefine our limitations or do we succumb to them? Do we allow our disabilities in life to disable us or enable us?

We all have the ability to turn our disability into amazing ability, to allow it to empower us, challenge us and push us to be the best possible version of ourselves.

Each day, we have the ability to be brave, to be courageous, to rise above and to continue to redefine our limitations. Where I believe bravery steps in is when we decide that regardless of what our disability may be, we aren't going to let it stop us from living, from aspiring to achieve our goals and from continuing to push ourselves one step further. In fact, that is the most courageous act of bravery there is; not allowing circumstance to define us and not allowing fear to hold us back.

At the end of the day, it isn't the moments or the circumstances in life that define us; it is how we react to them that defines who we are.

The only limitations we have are the one's that we create, so how do you redefine your limitations?