It’s very easy to stand out from an early age when you have a limb-difference in amongst your childhood friends whom all possess fully-able bodies. Despite how others outside of the friendship group or family circle may view you as looking different, it’s very easily achievable to forget about your difference. For me, this was certainly the case.
All my friends growing up were completely able-bodied, as were my family. Through the way I’ve been brought up through physical activities and being reminded that my hand would never be a reason to get out of doing something, that mentality stuck with me for a long time as I got older and still does now, in fact.
However, through that mindset which made me the person I am today, it also made me somewhat forget about my difference for the longest time. While it may have been a massive help to my confidence to block it out and feel like a ‘normal kid,’ as I got older and moved on to places like high school, college or the workplace, you suddenly realise that you are a little bit different in a sense. Your limb isn’t a regular sight to many.
It can take a long time to truly accept your difference and it all comes down to self-awareness. I utter this regularly when asked, but we all, limb-different or not, have our own nuances. Some are open to discuss, some bottle it up inside. It’s only natural to have our pet peeves, but expectations from magazines, celebrities and cosmetics tell society what is right and acceptable and more often than not, what we are can often feel less desirable than what we are told we should be.
We all have our days where our peeves get the best of us. I could sit here and tell you I don’t, but that would be the biggest lie of them all. When I try to do things - for instance lifting weights the first time, trying out a new technique at striking and jiu jitsu practice, even looking in the mirror when I’m all dressed up and that shirt just won’t stay up the way I want it to or the fact that my good left arm is naturally bigger than my right arm – when those things happen, my mentality can sometimes have me saying “Why me?” and making me wish I was ‘normal.’
Like, why was I given this? Why do I have to deal with this? From looks and stares to my own self-doubt and aggravation, at the end of it all you must realise that it is what makes you, you. Some things are not fixable and some that are just aren’t worth the fuss.
Through launching this website, writing these columns and getting to speak to people like me as well as parents across the world on social media, I’ve learned about my own self-awareness and accepted my difference wholeheartedly and that took me a long time to do. I remember what it has given me access to, but that doesn’t make me perfect with this way of thinking. Insecurities find their way out. However, it is up to you to embrace them as part of you and your comfortability through self-awareness, rather than allowing them to make you uncomfortable. You must accept yourself and your difference before you can truly accept others’ uniqueness.