Ever since childhood, I’ve been aware of how my disability affects daily life. Often, I couldn’t keep up with my peers on the playground or run in gym class. The older I was the more I felt like an outsider.
I remember the jealousy I felt when my peers began to get their driver’s licenses when I was a sophomore in high school. I wanted to be like everyone else. However, as more and more of my peers began to drive, I noticed something.
Whenever they would talk about having to drive their younger siblings around or do errands for their household, they acted like it was an inconvenience. I never understood this. I wanted to be able to drive my sibling around if they needed to go somewhere. I wouldn’t have minded running errands for my parents.
Unfortunately, these feelings intensified after I graduated from high school in 2018. I attended Westfield State University in hopes of earning my bachelor’s degree.
At the end of my freshman year, I wanted to add work experience to my résumé. I visited the career center on campus.. The staff at the career center acted surprised to see me there. I felt unwelcome.
I found an opportunity at a local publishing business. I was disappointed to learn that the businesses was not accessible. Later that year, I started to look for a job again. I have filled out hundreds of job applications since then. It is June 2023, and I am still unemployed.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 21.3 percent of disabled people were employed last year, up from 19.1 percent in 2021. This is the highest percentage ever recorded. Unfortunately, disabled people are still more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. In fact, the unemployment rate for disabled people is still triple that of non-disabled people.
As I’ve grown up I also wonder if I’ll ever have a romantic relationship. Will people find someone who has Cerebral Palsy attractive? The thought of being intimate with somebody is scary. Having a disability means that I have to allow people to assist me with my personal care. I don’t particularly enjoy the thought of having my partner help me use the bathroom or get dressed. More than anything, however I wonder if my partner would see me as a burden.
Cerebral Palsy shouldn’t stop me from living my life to the fullest and participating in society. I want to be able to pay taxes, vote, travel, work, and live life like everyone else. At times, however, it feels like this is too much to ask. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to live my life to the fullest.
Ceron, Ella. “Remote Work Helps Push Disabled Employment to a Record High of 21%. but the Gain Is Imperiled by Return to the Office Mandates.” Fortune, 25 Feb. 2023, https://fortune.com/2023/02/24/remote-work-disabled-employment-record-high-remote-work-office-mandates/.