The OPPORTUNITY Of A LIFETIME
I want to say I remember the exact date. I do not; however, that does not take the meaning, luster, or any other adjective to describe the importance of this day away.
I was a sophomore in college and still was having trouble finding a friend who truly made me feel comfortable talking about my cerebral Palsy. I felt that until I explained it, I would not have that authentic friendship I so desired.
Anyway, I believe it was a gloomy day in September or October at Mitchell College in New London, CT.
I remember it like it was yesterday —- which is saying something because the story starts with me on the phone with my mom — it probably was the 1000 time I talked to her that day. Still, this time was unlike the rest: she called, and I did not moan and groan about how much work I had to do; instead, she asked me what I was doing.
It was probably four p.m., and I was lying in bed sleeping to mask my anxiety about making friends. I said, “Nothing.” “Well, what can you do?” She asked. Then, in a voice of trepidation, I said:
“The basketball team is holding a clinic for Special Olympics CT.
I did not want to go because — though I would be volunteering — I did not want to be associated with individuals whose disabilities are apparen, as I told myself that I did not have friends because of the way I walk.
After the event, everyone was given Pizza. I took mine and scarfed it down because I probably had not eaten all day due to my anxiety.
While eating as fast as I could, I choked, and this player on the school team offered me his drink. I eventually stopped choking, and we sat on the gym steps for hours, talking about life and basketball.
After explaining to him how my Cerebral affects me, he said, “Do me a favor; we are not going to refer to it as a disability; we are going to refer to it as an OPPORTUNITY!
I must have looked at him as if a bear was attacking me. Still, about six years later, I am grateful that I have learned that I have an OPPORTUNITY to impact people using my disability POSITIVELY.
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Aww, Jake, I love this piece. Your friend is right. It is an opportunity and NOT a disability. What beautiful and true wisdom. Never lose sight of how your uniqueness is a chance to inspire the world. Thank you for sharing. <3Lauren
I sincerely appreciate the kind words!
This piece is incredible, thank you for sharing!
Jake, this message was /is well received. I too have often hid the interabled parts of Me so that no one would notice. It is very tiring to say the least. I have had to turn down many many many events because of my anxiety and the fact I felt shamed by what others would think or if they could tell I was triggered. Perservance is what I am learning more and I thank you for sharing this letter. My favorite line in the poem, “Well, what can you do?” is powerful. No one hardly ever asks you that and it gave Me a comforting feeling. Because on some days we focus so much on the big picture and maybe trying to conquer everything instead of celebrating the small wins too. Thank you for your refreshing outlook. And showcasing your ABILITY!! 🙂