I’ve been blessed to have been accepted into a few schools, and yesterday, I applied for one of their honor’s programs. The prompt was:
“Imagine that you are traveling to a foreign country. Because you want to engage with the local population, you have packed three items to help you express who you are. One item should represent your past, one should represent your present, and one your future. Describe the three items you have chosen, and how they represent you. Which item would you present as a gift to those you meet and why?”
I thought I’d share my response with you…
If I were travelling to a foreign country and had to bring three items representing my past, present, and future, I would pack the bike I spent afternoons on as a child, the walker that grants me the gift of freedom, and the pink forearm crutches I’m learning to walk with. These items represent what I want to do in life: make a difference. These three items showcase the impact my cerebral palsy has had on my life, and they’re tangible reminders that it does not define me.
My bike represents awareness. The night I first sat on its leather seat and took a hold of its red handles was the night I became aware that my disability would force me to navigate life differently. Unlike the bike my sister rode, or the ones my friends cruised down the street on, this bike had three wheels. Its third wheel was a glaring reminder that I didn’t have the balance to use a regular one, but it also taught me that I could overcome the obstacles I was faced with. I spent hours on my bike, flying up and down the street. My bike represents awareness, and it reminds me that I can beat my disability.
My walker represents acceptance. For years, I hated it. I hated that it made me stand out and that it attracted stares from strangers whenever I went out in public. But in March of 2014, when I opened my school’s diversity program with a speech about how being different is beautiful, that changed. When my speech was received with resounding applause and a standing ovation, I saw my walker-and my disability- for what it was: a platform. Now, I accept that the battle I fight has given me a platform to inspire others and touch lives, and I want to use it. I want to use my challenges to uplift someone else; I want to tell my story to encourage others. My walker represents acceptance, and it reminds me that I should be proud of being unique, not ashamed.
My crutches represent perseverance. Right now, I can’t walk with them. I can stand with them on my own, but the instant I try to walk, I lose my balance and face plant. But come May, I’ll walk across the stage at graduation holding onto their handles, not my walker’s. I’m going to accomplish my goal; I’m going to fight through the difficulty and the pain that comes with using them and walk on my own. They represent the way I have and will continue to persevere through my disability, and they’re reminders that if you work hard and never give up, nothing is impossible.
If I had to pick one object to present as a gift to the people I met overseas, I would present my crutches. Not only do they symbolize perseverance, but for me, they represent the dreams I have yet to fulfill and the lives I have yet to touch. I’ve been able to do a lot of amazing things in my seventeen years, but this is just the beginning. I want to keep sharing my story and keep reaching out to others. My crutches are a reminder to keep dreaming impossible dreams, but more importantly, they’re a reminder that no mountain is so tall that it can’t be climbed.