Why I’ve Chosen To Become An Advocate
Dealing with a disability can be extremely difficult for anyone. But for me, a large part of the issue was always feeling like I was judged. I grew up in a cliché, small town where everybody knows their neighbors, and even things like ice cream socials in church gatherings become a place for gossip. The children are talking about who they think is going to get the best Christmas presents, or who’s going to make the soccer team, both of which were Millet Envy, which often expressed anger.
All of the parents are gathered together, talking about the parenting skills of other parents or how much money does someone get from child support, or who’s having an affair with who. Gossip in my case was weaponized. I was always the subject of rumors and unfair prejudices.
Eventually, I realized that my disability was more than just my inability to walk, but it was so much more. I have trouble reading Maps, I’m disorganized and writing by hand can be excruciatingly painful and time-consuming. But because I was judged prematurely, I was unable to succeed to my full potential in school. I was never diagnosed with a learning disability until my family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I cannot for the life of me understand how someone could miss something so big, especially when you consider that I had this disability since I was born. I can’t help but wonder if they were choosing to ignore my special needs.
I know for a fact that this made me easy prey for a teacher who used to follow me into the bathroom, try to peek under the stall and continue to stalk me, even after I changed schools. This only stopped when I told them that I would ask a police officer if any of this would constitute as harassment, and if it did, I would press charges. I don’t believe for a minute that they all the sudden had an epiphany that they were doing something wrong, but I believe in my heart that they were simply trying to save their own skin.
I was always worried about being judged. People would say that I was lazy, and I refused to go to online college to make it seem that way. That is, until my safety was put in jeopardy. I got stuck in a basement without the ability to leave, and in that instant you feel helpless. All the things I’ve seen on the news, including school shootings and massive fires breaking out, were playing in my head. My anxiety was picking up. I vomited on myself, and I could barely breathe, and in that moment, I was sure I was going to die and they would find my body slumped over on a pile of moldy lacrosse equipment.
Luckily, I made it home safe with the help of my mother. When I called and complained, I told the school that I wouldn’t be returning unless I knew I was safe. They told me that I should be going to an online college.
That’s when I truly found my voice. I found people like me. I found Coffee House Writers. I found some of the most honest, trustworthy and beautiful people I’ve ever met in my life.
I am blessed to be on this path. And with that said, I believe that God put me on this Earth so that I would be able to make someone else’s life better.
In this moment, I pledge that from now on, I will be a voice for those who need it the most. I am very blessed to have the opportunity that others don’t because they feel they’re being judged or because of their health issues that they will be mentally and physically confined to a life where they’re afraid and feel helpless. Some days are better than others, but I will be here for you.
I read a lot of books written by survivors of trauma and hardships, like Stephen Hawking and Susan Klebold. Even though I don’t know either of them personally, just knowing that someone can go through something so incredibly difficult and come out fighting makes me feel better about myself.
So thank you to the people inspired me, and screw you to the people that thought you could write me off.