People are usually quick to form an opinion about someone else. Whether done intentionally or not, we all have a tendency to judge others without really knowing them or understanding their personal circumstances.
As an individual with cerebral palsy (CP), I have often faced judgement from others, based solely on my medical diagnosis. Labels are powerful and play a huge role in how people are perceived by those around them. A label can feel scary to someone unfamiliar with CP. It highlights that my disability makes me different from other people.
People find it challenging to embrace someone, to celebrate someone, who is different from them. It is natural for people to fear the unknown. This fear often leads to avoidance. When we avoid getting to know someone, it greatly impacts our perception of them and their true capabilities.
I was diagnosed with CP as a young child. Doctors predicted that I would never speak, see or have any real quality of life. My parents were told to have low expectations in terms of my development and abilities.
However, despite any diagnosis or label, people are resilient. People will surprise you. They will far exceed the expectations placed on them when given the opportunity to thrive and showcase their true capabilities.
As a teenager, I started to define myself based on how others perceived me. My brain injury caused me to develop social skills at a slower rate than my peers. This lack of social skills and positive relationships in my life, left me feeling anxious, isolated and rejected. At the time, this caused me to develop a certain perspective about what I was truly capable of.
As a grown adult, I no longer define myself based on how other people may see me. The challenges I face (as a result of my brain injury) do not dictate what I am capable of doing and achieving. I now have a life, that I never could have imagined. I no longer shy away from participating in activities that seem complicated or difficult. I accept the fact that making plans or organizing events requires more time and extra effort for me. However, the challenges I face do not impact my capability to do things. My abilities may be different from the average person, but this does not prevent me from living my life to the fullest.
I am part of an amazing community of people, with a range of abilities. To define their worth based solely on a label, without getting to know them, is a huge mistake. Everyone is capable of great things, in their own way.
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Until next time,
Victoria Benner Edited By: Sarah Wilkinson