Remember: Life is not a race or a competition.
I was supposed to graduate college on May 6. But by the time those graduation photos hit my timeline, I had been medically withdrawn from the university for nine months.
I was forced to withdraw during my senior year after experiencing a mountain of problems with my wheelchair and unbelievable neglect by my university’s disability and advising departments. My wheelchair was falling apart daily as I tried to get to classes. Getting it fixed meant I would lose my wheelchair, and thus my legs, for a week’s time. I went to the appropriate university departments (and then some) to ask for reasonable accommodations, such as remote access, to attend classes while my wheelchair was repaired. I was denied.
For a senior in college, being unable to attend classes causes a ton of stress. The lack of support and access to resources for a student with a disability was not only baffling, but it also added to my stress. After a month-long battle and many tears, my health and body were in the worst shape they’ve ever been in. My disability adviser told me I didn’t know how to advocate for myself. I was presented withdrawal papers as the only option.
This was like a punch in the stomach. I do know how to advocate; I’ve been disabled all of my life. I followed my school’s advice, including that of people in the disability, advising and housing offices. I felt both let down and kicked out.
I was proud that I had worked so hard and had come as far as I had, until this point, with no breaks or serious issues. I didn’t even withdraw when I was sick the previous year. Now I was being forced to withdraw literally because I didn’t have the legs to get me to and from classes.
These past nine months have been emotional and confusing, and it has been difficult as a disabled person to find peace and safety in the world.
If you are reading this and feel as if you are behind in life compared to your friends, or that you are unworthy due to your physical circumstances, I’ve learned that sometimes, people burn brighter than the sun. The world isn’t always prepared for that, but you can’t let it darken you.
It is hard to put yourself and your health first. When you’re a person with a disability, there are many added pressures and guilt feelings that come with caring for you first. But it is crucial that you do.
When you go back to work on that job or degree, you will be better and stronger from the time you took to grow. You’ll realize you never were actually behind, because all of that time was spent growing and blooming into the person you are meant to be.
Perhaps you did it a little sooner than everyone else. Remember that life is not a race or a competition. It is so important to take care of you.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.