Thursday, September 29, 2011

Never, never, never quit

There are many people who get what they want at the very first try. Good for them. I'm not one of them. It took me four years to finally resolve my immigration situation. And look at me now, turns out I can be pretty useful both as an advocate for people with Cerebral Palsy and an attorney with an eye for disability issues. I wasn't admitted to American law school with open arms either, but it turned out that when given a chance I can deliver, having a couple of book awards and Dean's letters congratulating me for being named to his lists as proof. The bar card wasn't exactly handed to me, but when I got it I knocked it out of the ball park. Living in fear of immigration and uncertain of the future I was surprised I was even functional enough to take any kind of exam. Don't get me wrong, I never did anything illegal, but sometimes your life falls to pieces even if you do everything right. People look at me and see a Permanent resident, a person in a wheelchair in a highly respected  profession and don't even stop to think that there is a back story to all of it, filled with stress and doubt and second guessing myself. But I knew I had to go forward.  Sometimes I asked myself, why am I doing this, am I just being stubborn. Why am I fighting so hard and how can it be worth it all this  struggle? But this was my life and my dream and I was going to hold on to it with all I got. Because I have gone so far and I have changed so much, how could I just go back to Poland to who I was as if nothing ever happened? Did I know it was all going to turn out okay? Of course not. Not a day goes by that I don't think it easily could've gone the other way. But what would I ever accomplish by quitting? I'm always very surprised that people are impressed that I went through it all as if I had a choice. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It did take strength I didn't know I have.
I  don't know if it's a lesson of Conductive Education or just my mother's determination rushing through my veins. During my years in Budapest you worked hard, you tried harder. Sometimes you fell down, only to get up try harder and reassess. I had blisters on my feet and rough skin on my hands from walking with sticks and braces for hours, but you don't quit even when it hurts, because accomplishment feels good, today and 20+ years ago.

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