As someone who has Cerebral Palsy, my independence is important to me. I rely on people every day to help me use the restroom, get dressed, and take a shower. Despite this, I still try to be as independent as I possibly can. Independence for me probably looks different than it is for most non-disabled people. One day in June of 2019, I spilled some strawberry yogurt on my shirt while I was home alone.
Rather than waiting for my mom to come home, I decided I would try to put a clean shirt on all by myself. It may not seem like a big deal to change your shirt, but for me, it is. I made my way to my bedroom and picked out a clean shirt to wear. I then took off my shirt and threw it in the laundry hamper. I put my new shirt over my head. As usual, I put the shirt on backward at first. I was determined not to give up, though.
I took the shirt off and tried again. After three tries, I finally put my shirt on all by myself. Admittedly, I was way more excited about this accomplishment than a 19-year-old should be. I had done it all by myself with no help. I didn’t give up even though it was hard.
When my mom came home a little while later, she didn’t notice right away that I’d changed my shirt. When she finally saw that I had done it, I lit up like a Christmas tree. For weeks afterward, I was in a jovial mood. I felt invincible. It reminded me of a scene on the ABC sitcom Speechless when the main character with CP, is proud of himself for zipping up his sweatshirt.
Cerebral Palsy can leave me feeling defeated at times, but on that particular day, I felt proud of myself. I was able to do something on my own, even if it took me longer than a non-disabled person. That day, was also when I learned to stop comparing myself to nondisabled people. I take pride in who I am, and my accomplishments whether they are big or small.