Friday, August 24, 2012

The Lawyer on wheels.

I try not to concern myself with what people may think. It's not my goal to impress anyone. But it took me quite a few years to finally accept that I'm my own person and I keep whatever company I choose. When I first came to America I really wanted to belong and find a group of friends where I could easily fit in. That was all these years ago. Today, I have friends from all walks of life. Straight and gay, younger and older, hipster and goth, I try to reach out to people in all places and feel comfortable everywhere I go. A friend recently told me how impressed he was seeing me transitioning between all those cliques, talking to everyone and never feeling out of place. I know that I'm different from most people I know. For one, I'm Polish and in a wheelchair. I can be loud and I'm very visible. But that's the way I am. People can either accept me or have an issue with me, whichever it is I will never change. And it's a great relief to not care so much and just be yourself. I'm surrounded by friends. I make friends everywhere I go, yet I'm an outsider. Not fitting anywhere completely gives me great comfort of being able to interact with different groups and just being me. To me, being different is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives me a unique perspective. "You've built quite a recognizable profile" said a friend to me once over drinks and I do think he's right to an extent. The key to succeeding in Gainesville, in life really is being able to navigate among different people, getting their respect. And turning your circumstance into something positive. I see everyone as human beings, I relate to them on individual basis. Their stories, hobbies and inspirations are fascinating to me. I could care less about their subcultures and how they choose to label themselves. The reason I have a group of diverse friends is because they are fun to be around. But I will never be like anyone else and with this comes a realization that no one will ever understand me fully.

 What is it like to be me? I'm never lonely, but in my struggles with disability I'm alone. And it takes strength that nobody else can give me. Sure, my friends may get upset that a  place is not wheelchair accessible. That it doesn't have a ramp. That it doesn't have a bathroom I can fit in, or if we're out that I can't roll up to the bar. But it's not their fight. It's mine. Sure, it's nice that they understand and support me, but they're not the ones that have to think about those things 24/7. I do. If they so choose they can just leave me behind and go to any place they desire without a problem. But again- I don't mind this. Not only because I try to put others before me, but I have a great passion for making a change and I have a will of a warrior. My mother used to say that only the parents of people with disabilities can understand what it's like. And she has taken on a lot and sacrificed even  more. Yes, she understands struggle, but her perspective is different than mine. When I was a child although she was with me most of the time if she went out without me then the stairs, accessibility, curbs where not limiting her in any way. Wouldn't it be nice if I could take a day off from Cerebral Palsy? It's true, I don't mind it most of the time. You can say that I never walked properly so I can't really miss it. But that's not so. I know what being different feels like. I have met people with disabilities who choose forever to be single. I don't support it, but I understand the sentiment- if you're forever alone in your mind, in your struggle, what is the point of having someone else involved? I'm happy. I'm driven. I chose to celebrate not so much the things that make me different but my life. But in when I push myself, when I win or lose with my body, I'm alone.  And I accept it. Be as engaged as I can, with this somber realization that there are aspects to me others will never relate to. 

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