As I have grown up, my hopes for my life have changed. Growing up, I longed to fit in with my peers and be like everyone else. I wanted to work part-time as a teenager, get my driver’s license and go to prom. Now that I am 22 years old, my hopes have evolved. I still hope to find work, but remaining optimistic is challenging. Since 2019, I’ve filled out hundreds of job applications. Too often, once employers find out that I have Cerebral Palsy, they no longer want to hire me. It hurts every time I see yet another rejection e-mail in my inbox. The more this happens; the more I wonder if I’ll ever find work. 

My younger sister has now found her second job before I’ve found my first one. It’s hard to see people younger than me who are working. I should be able to find work, and I can’t. I can’t help that I have Cerebral Palsy, and it is frustrating that employers discriminate against me because of it. 

I’ve also learned to be happy being alone. During my childhood, I wanted to have lots of friends. This was easier when I was in elementary school, but by the time I was in middle school, I began to become more reserved. By my senior year of high school, I’d given up on making friends entirely. 

Adults tried to get me to make friends when I was growing up. I know they were trying to be helpful, but it had the opposite effect.  Forcing me to be social didn’t help me. Having friendships that last for years is a luxury, and I wish people understood this. I don’t have anyone from my school years that still talks to me. I have close bonds with many family members, but they are not my friends. My uncle and I speak on the phone almost every Saturday, and it makes me sad that I look forward to it as much as I do. Last year, someone I considered a really good friend stopped talking to me altogether. It hurt deeply and really made me question if friendships were worth it. I’ve yet to make another friend since and probably won’t for a while. 

In the future, I hope to find work and perhaps get married and have kids. Right now, I can’t legally get married without losing my disability benefits. In the future, I hope that this changes as well. Hope is a powerful feeling, but living with a disability can sometimes feels hopeless. I want to have the same opportunities as everyone else, and this shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

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