One of the best things about life is the constant challenge that accompanies it. Challenge nurtures growth through its uncomfortable aura. Those challenges come in both physical and mental ways. The opportunity to prove people wrong, silence doubters and inspire masses of people along the way are just some of the benefits worth reaping.
Life has a way of sometimes throwing you in at the deep end with challenges in all shapes and sizes. A challenge can come in the form of getting used to being looked at or figuring out your own way of tying shoelaces. In my experience, living with a limb-difference provides constant challenges and demands you to grow thicker skin.
Without the thicker skin, you’re bound to be stuck in the same old rut for as long as you let yourself be. What I’ve picked up throughout my life of growing up with tough love from my parents and being given no special treatment is that personal growth is just as important as anything. If you allow yourself to quit at each steep hurdle, your personal best is never going to be what you’re capable of attaining.
It’s a constant graft that means encountering many trials and tribulations – oftentimes on your own. For instance, throughout my childhood I’d always try to learn to tie my shoelaces, but I was never capable of making it all the way through. I’d take the lace, wrap it around the other, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to pull off the loop to set up the single knot. I’d sit with my mum, dad, brother or sister and walk through it step by step. The lack of thumb proved to stump me further in the task, as an ‘able-bodied’ person would use that to loop the lace.
I’d try and fail time after time, feeling like I wasn’t making any progress whatsoever. Defeatedly, I’d rely on Velcro shoes for a fast solution most of the time, but I’d never give up on tying my laces. Even through my teens I couldn’t manage! It wasn’t until I was twenty-years-old when I met a limb-different kid named David Griffin that I finally figured out a way to tie them. Since then, I have timed myself and become increasingly faster at tying them.
Even with tough love at an early age, I cannot sit here and say I didn’t get lazy, unmotivated and give up a couple of times myself. It’s the easy option; the easiest road to take. When you’ve a mother who’d rather fix it for you than watch you struggle, dependency was at large sometimes.
I’ve echoed this many times when discussing with parents, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. I didn’t understand it nor did I like it as a child, but I’ve benefited greatly for it. That nervous, questioning feeling you have when out of your comfort zone only develops you for better things. I continue to push it as often as possible. From dressing yourself, fastening buttons for the first time, to getting involved in something as physical as mixed martial arts and even standing in a room full of able-bodied people and hoping to make an impact with your story. It’s scary; but you grow that smallest inch from it each and every time.
There’s a reason why this cause has the name it has – because it’s a real matter. Disability truly is ability. Many fail to see the middle line between that. It’s an ability in the form that it creates an opportunistic hurdle for you either leap down the road to success or submit to failure. It presents itself with a massive opportunity to make the numbers think, “How is this person doing this?”
However, just because it is a hurdle does not mean it is a sprint. Success with each task takes varied amounts of time for different people. The sad reality of it is there are kids out, both able and limb-different, who decide they can’t do something or they won’t do something, then create an excuse to satisfy the means behind it.
The opportunistic hurdle can be the size of the Empire State or as small as the front yard gate. Matter not does the size of the hurdle, but what you do to adapt and overcome this challenge. I have nine fingers and one wrist bone in my right hand which limits movement as well as only giving me the power to move two of the fingers on that hand. Not a gigantic issue, right? You would be 50/50 on that. It creates a significant amount of issues daily, but how I confront them is the real decider.
I could have it worse, you think? Definitely.
A disability is a blessing. It is a gift; a test of all kinds. It's a psychology play: you can either control it or let it control you.