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"Thesaurus description of disabled: crippled, helpless, useless, wrecked, wounded, mangled, weakened. See also: hurt, useless, weak. Ant. healthy, strong, capable.
I was reading this list outloud to a friend. As the words rolled off my tongue, they felt ludicrous -- until my voice broke. I had just gotten past "mangled," and I had to stop. Collect myself. The emotional shock and impact was too much, too close to my own experience.
How powerful are words? A few phrases revealed how the world perceived someone like me: seemingly nothing positive whatsoever going for me. Quite frankly, there was a moment when I too perceived myself with such words.
Not for long. Not me.
Today, I am celebrated for the opportunities I've created and the adventures my life has procured.
It's not just about words. It's about what we believe about people when we name them with these kinds of words. It's about the value behind the words.
Our language affects our thinking and how we view the world.
What idea are we calling into existence? A person who is limited? Or a person who is empowered?
Everyone has something rare and powerful to offer society and the human ability to adapt is our greatest asset." - Quote from a TED Talk by paralympic, Aimee Mullins.
There is opportunity of adversity.
I remember my aunt trimming my long dark hair when she noticed a large protrusion on the right side of my back. I was twelve. I was being diagnosed with a severe form of Scoliosis and an 80 degree spinal curvature. I was told that I would need major back surgery immediately. The metal rods of the spinal fusion would straighten the curvature before it got worse.
I was bedridden for a year as I recovered. I traded sixth grade for home-schooling and physical therapy. This was just the beginning of the emotional pain that meets our physical pain.
Most people look at me and see a perfectly fine young lady, but as the saying goes, 'Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle'. I'd like to sit here and say that I am strong and point end. I am strong -- but I fight for this strength. There are days when I look in the mirror and I can barely brush my hair because of the pain. There are days when the only medication that works are cuddles with my cat.
While many believe the world is my cubicle, on days of weakness, the best desk is my bed.
But there are also days when I'm climbing mountains in Peru and traveling halfway across the world because I don't want to give up on the opportunities that life has in store for me. I live with chronic pain and I've endured dark days of depression -- but I continue to overcome those days because I will not to be defined by my so-called "disability."
I've fought hard to live a fulfilling life because I'm continually aware of the fact that we are only given one life.
My goal is to strengthen others in the same boat to realize the same.
I want to empower children who are faced with the same reality that I was faced with when I was twelve. I want to remind people that just because you appear to be healthy, doesn't mean that your pain is not valid. Just because your diagnosed with a so-called "disability" does not mean that you cannot open doors for yourself. Living with chronic pain makes you realize you can keep going long after you think you can't.
100% of all donations will go to the Scoliosis Research Society's (SRS) Research, Education Outreach (REO). Funds are used entirely for research, outreach programs educational scholarships and fellowships. It is organizations and contributions such as Scoliosis Research Society that improves treatments and prevention of spinal deformities.
Contributing editor" such as Stephanie Be, TravelBreak
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