They say that there’s no substitute for experience, while there are different ways to apply this statement, in this case I think it’s 100 percent true. There are certain things you are not going to know unless you experience them, that’s what makes us unique after all the culmination of life experiences that have led to this moment. My disability has definitely made for some interesting experiences so to close out Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, I wanted to share life lessons living with a disability has taught me.
Lesson 1: Positivity In The Face Of Challenges Isn’t In Authentic; It’s Strength
I’ve always had a more positive outlook on life or tried to, even if there was a crappy situation as a result of my disability. When I think back to my childhood I wondered at times whether the innocence of childhood was the result or just naturally how I was. I’m glad to say it was more of the latter.
Nonetheless, I never got used to people saying I’m so positive for someone with a disability and I was concerned more than once when I started The Sitting Beauty Diaries that my positivity would seem inauthentic. Why? Because I would often see people with disabilities on social media say that to others and I wondered if one day I was going to read that comment one day. I realized it’s an individual thing. I work for my positivity, but I will also admit when there are tough days and that’s okay. The choice you make to deal with your disability and how you approach things is your own and if it’s a positive mindset, don’t let anyone tell you that you are faker or inauthentic because of it. In my opinion, positivity means strength, it means that when you have hard days with your disability you’ll feel them, but you won’t let them keep you knocked down or impede you from reaching your goals.
Lesson 2: It’s Not Right or Fair, But If You Have A Physical Disability People Will Underestimate You & Your Capabilities. Prove Them Wrong Don’t Underestimate Yourself.
Mindset and Stereotypes. We’re all familiar with stereotypes that surround people with disabilities, you the ones that say:
- That We Don’t Want Or Can’t Work
- We’re Not Educated
- We Don’t Go Out With Friends Or Date, Or Have Families
- Basically That People With Disabilities Don’t Do Anything That Resembles Having A Life
This is not fair, but hopefully, these stereotypes won’t be as widely believed one day, but until then I’ve learned especially since I reached adulthood that people will underestimate you simply because you have a disability specifically if it’s one they can see, but you should never underestimate yourself. I know it gets tiring to keep having conversations about your capabilities, but if you hear something enough times, it’s hard not to believe it or have doubts about what you are capable of, but don’t let that doubt or fear keep you from moving towards where you want to go for long because you might regret it if you do.
Lesson 3: Your Mindset Matters:
Before the pandemic hit, I never paid much attention to my mindset other than general positivity. If you follow me on social media I’ve posted often about how the time staying at home gave me time for a lot of reflection and during that time, my mindset became a much bigger part of my focus. Your mindset matters. nMindset is a part of how we see the things happening around us and how we process our experiences. My mindset as I stated earlier is one of the aspects that help me deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with a disability. It takes work and it’s not easy, but it matters.
Lesson 4: Listen To Your Body, Know Your Capabilities & Limitations & Accept Them
There is a difference between knowing your abilities and accepting your limitations, particularly when you need to listen to your body. In another post on the blog “You are disabled yes, it doesn’t define you, yes, but sometimes it will change the way you do things and that is okay. There will be times when your disability keeps you from doing something as well and it will be disappointing when those times come, but that will be okay too. Accepting the limitations of your disability means that you know what you can handle and what you can’t. It’s okay to keep working at something or try something new, but also know it’s okay to say “I can’t do this right now or I’m tired, or I need help with this”.”
There are times that I think back on my childhood and I know I didn’t listen to my body because I didn’t want to be different in the way my disability made me. I didn’t like asking for help. I knew that there were things that I could be doing that were better for my Cerebral Palsy, my body at times and I didn’t. These days I know that doing what’s best for my body where my disability is concerned means my days running more smoothly. Accepting my capabilities and my limitations enabled me to be a more confident disabled woman.
I’m in my 20’s I know, I’ve got so much more life to live, but I definitely gained insight into how people react to people with disabilities. There are times that it’s funny, annoying, frustrating, disheartening, the list goes on and on, however, I know I still have much more to live and learn and I’m excited about it. I also know that in the years to come I’ll definitely be adding to this list of life lessons living with a disability has taught me.
What life lessons have you learned as a result of living with a disability? Let me know in the comments below.