Every day is a new day. It’s an opportunity to step up and go a little further than the day before. A chance to embrace things that might have been there for the taking all along, but something gets in the way.
We learn a lot about ourselves when we try to move whatever that “thing” may be. We might have some help or we might not. When we have help, it’s easier to see what needs to be done. And how to do it. When help isn’t within reach, however, we sometimes realize the mountain that needs to be moved is one that we must move on our own.
I came to a somewhat different conclusion as I got older. I had help around me. I always have, and I’m extremely grateful for it. The difference is that I’ve never liked to abuse the fact that it’s always there, which I could easily do. However, I try to figure out when I need the most help before I ask for it. It’s something that I don’t take lightly because my need for assistance is apparent – and it always will be.
Looking back, knowing I had all that extra baggage when I was younger makes me feel like I could’ve somehow done more for myself. Or at least not have had to be so reliant during that time. I had help outside of my family, too.
There was a point where I even asked myself, ‘Are people helping me because they genuinely want to, or are they doing it because it’s what’s expected when they see someone like me? Or is it a little bit of both?”
That was also when I told myself I needed to start carrying my own weight. I wanted to try to do more for myself. Help myself. But how? I couldn’t make money, drive a car, cook or do laundry. That was the extent of what I thought encompassed an adult’s world. It was everything I heard my parents tell my older brother, so I thought it applied to me as well.
I remembered the communication board I had in second grade, and the impact it had on my life. It was the very first piece of technology that I learned to use. It certainly wouldn’t be the last, but the way it made me feel stayed with me. I wanted that feeling of freedom and responsibility again. So, I asked my parents for the one thing I thought could fill that void – a cell phone.
“Why do you need a phone?” they asked.
“Well, it could be useful…” I said.
I wasn’t trying to make a big deal out of it. I wasn’t trying to be a cool kid or bribe them into buying me my first phone, either. I genuinely thought it would be a wise investment for me at the time. Not only that, but the notion that I could still get help if it wasn’t nearby eased my mind. On that note, my parents agreed to let me get a phone. It would end up being a measure of safety because my family was always on the go. They still are.
As an adult now, I appreciate the fact I can reach my family wherever they may be. I also appreciate that I’ve learned to use and view technology as a legitimately useful tool to help me live my life the way I want to live it, rather than making it convenient and easy. I respect the fact that most people use technology because of its convenience and ease. That’s what it’s made for. I just hope that others respect the fact that technology was – and still is, my lifeline in many ways.
However, it’s hard to shed some of that weight when I know it’s still going to be there tomorrow – just in a different form. It was even harder to not feel that way when I was a kid. I at least have something to help lift that heaviness off my shoulders, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
I come with a lot of baggage. I didn’t want to lose sight of that when I was younger — and I definitely don’t want to let it slip my mind now. Learning how to use technology — whether it’s my computer, cell phone or my motorized wheelchair, has. It’s one of the few ways I can be self-reliant without feeling like I’m bothering anyone else.
Use what you have. That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned. It might not be given to you or passed down from another generation. You may have to find it yourself. And when you do find it, don’t waste it.
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