Do you let your disability define you, or do you define it?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) over 15% of our population has a disability. About 2-4% of these people suffer from difficulties in functioning.
Have you ever looked at someone who parked in a handicap spot and wondered to yourself how they got that placard, or if they are driving someone else’s car? I am ashamed to admit that I have done this very thing. On the other hand, have you ever looked at someone who is in a wheelchair who is leading a fully functional life and wonder, how do they do that? I am happy to say that I have done that far more times than I have with the handicapped placard.
How do you define a disability? I have my opinion on how you define it. You either let it define you, or you define it. Look all around you. There are people with disabilities everywhere who are doing amazing things with their lives. They are taking their tragedy and turning it into something to inspire others.
Take for example, Nick Vujicic. He was born with no arms and no legs. You look at him and think, wow, what is he going to do with his life? Nick states, “I don’t believe I am disabled. Yes, I have no arms and no legs but big deal. Doesn’t matter how I look. It’s who I am and what I do.” Nick has traveled to over 60 countries speaking hope into people’s lives. How’s that for defining his disability.
This year I met an inspirational woman during a bucket list trip. She is wheelchair bound, but doesn’t let that stop her from being happy, living an active life and making a difference in the lives of others. I listened to her talk about her daily struggles with things like going to the bathroom, getting a ride and brushing her teeth in a hotel room that was not really equipped for someone in a wheelchair. Her story broke my heart, but also deeply inspired me and encouraged me to work towards being more resilient, like her.
This week I had someone come out and do some service on my house. He noticed my hearing aids and after asking me some questions, he told me the story about his brave little seven-year-old daughter. She was born deaf and got her first set of cochlear implants at 18 months old. The doctors told him and his wife that she would not make it past a first grade education. Today she is a normal functioning second grader, in regular classes just like her peers. Her dad said, “We took a deaf little girl and turned her into a girl that could hear, but who doesn’t listen, just like all the other kids her age.” I was so inspired by her story. I am a grown woman and scared to death to get cochlear implants and here is a child, who braved several surgeries so that she could hear. To top it off, her parents lobbied for legislation to change so that insurance companies would cover two cochlear implants. This was after a doctor told them that you only need one ear to hear.
I could go on and on. You know people just like the ones I just told you about. You probably know ones who have a disability and let it define their lives. These people set their dreams aside and let their condition define them. By no means am I saying I think it’s easy, but attitude is so important. In my opinion, it’s what will make or break you.
Thank you for reading.