Pride Without Pity:

July is Disability Pride Month. Over the years, I’ve learned to become more comfortable with my disability. I don’t love every second of life with Cerebral Palsy. Some days can be very challenging. Chronic pain and ableism are tough to deal with.

It frustrates me when I am treated differently because of my disability. Having CP doesn’t mean that I am less of a human being than anyone else. Ableist ideas are very present in everyday life. In particular, this is seen once a disabled child reaches adulthood. I’ve been looking for work for the past three years, and haven’t had any luck. Discrimination based on one’s disability is supposed to be illegal, but it happens anyway.

When I turned 18, I started to wonder if I could move out of my parent’s house. I thought that I might end up living in a nursing home or other facility. This wasn’t what I wanted. No non-disabled 18-year-old wants to live in a nursing home. I was no exception. I moved out when I was 20-years-old, and live with my best friend.

Some people seem to think that being disabled is an awful existence. Life with a disability is not always bad. I’ve had people tell me that I’m inspirational in the grocery store. Grocery shopping is an ordinary task that millions of people complete everyday. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t mean I can’t go to the grocery store or anywhere else. I’ve even had strangers pray for me in public. All the prayers in the world won’t cure my Cerebral Palsy.

Although I have a disability, it doesn’t mean my life is a tragedy. I’ve made memories that I’ll cherish for a lifetime. I’ve been in the water with dolphins in Florida, seen Niagara Falls, gone to Fenway Park, and TD Garden and seen pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. I have a wonderful family, good friends and I’m able to live a full life. Life with Cerebral Palsy can be lived and enjoyed.

Please don’t take pity on me and think that my life is a tragedy. Instead, focus on ensuring that people like me can live our lives just like anyone else. Disabled people around the world are fighting for equality every day.

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