When I graduated from college almost 10 years ago, I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief. Finally, I thought, I’d arrived at the finish line and could begin the new, exciting chapter in my life. I walked (well, more like rolled, considering I’m in a wheelchair) across that stage to proudly accept my diploma, which I saw as my ticket to adulthood. I was on my way – or so I thought. And then life happened. Or didn’t happen, I suppose, depending on how you look at it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not jaded. I’m proud of where my post-college journey has taken me; it’s just that the path looks different than I thought it would. After all, a decade has passed since graduation day – a decade full of ups and downs and twists and turns – so I’m not exactly the same person I was back when I donned my cap and gown. Looking back, it would have been nice to have a little advice to go along with that diploma – you know, a sort of cheat sheet for the “real world.” So, in the name of continuing education, here are five things I wish someone had told me about life after college… Keep reading »
I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder. I had 26 surgeries by my 16th birthday, so hospital rooms and intimidating doctors’ offices quickly became the backdrop of my childhood, filling up metaphorical pages that other kids had reserved for dirt hill races and princess tea parties with their stuffed animals. Growing up, I was always a little different than my peers. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just boiled down to different life experiences that I was having. I spent a lot of time reading, but it was tough to relate to the characters’ adventures when my world often seemed confined to a small, square hospital room.
Then a little book called The Fault In Our Stars came along. Keep reading »
I’ve always prided myself on being a pretty fearless person. I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder, and spent much of my childhood in and out of doctors’ offices and hospitals. I’ve survived some 26 surgeries. I’ve worked through the dark days following my father’s suicide. Oh, and let’s not forget about the time I went on the Jaws ride at Universal Studios and managed not to have a heart attack, despite my unnatural fear of sharks. Totally fearless, right?
But still, even though I’m in my early 30s and have it together (mostly), I’ve never really been able to shake those love and relationship hangups that most people seem to leave in adolescence. In some ways, I’m still that awkward 16-year-old girl, trying to muddle through all those confusing questions. (Full disclosure: I don’t have any dating experience yet, but enjoy living vicariously through sappy romantic comedies…) I know that my disability will help me weed out a lot of dud dudes, but I also know that it will raise a few questions. Questions about the role my disability will play in my life and in my future relationships. Questions that, honestly, I’ve been too afraid to ask, even of myself. Maybe I’m too scared of the answers. Maybe, deep down, I already know the answers. So many possibilities are swirling in this little head of mine, so I suppose I might as well just ask them… Keep reading »
Dear Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries,
I used to see your brand walk up and down the halls of my high school way back in the day. Before I really even knew who you were, there you were — in the form of jeans, shirts and other fashion statements of the late ’90s. At the time, I thought I hated you for the simple reason that the popular kids seemed to have a monopoly on you, and in my mind, popular was synonymous with evil. But, I’m older and wiser now, and know it’s not the popular kids that I loathe.
It’s your “you’re not good enough” mentality. Keep reading »
It can be something as little as the time I was standing in a hotel parking lot while on vacation one summer, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man walking toward me. He looked exactly like my father. The closer he got, the larger the lump in my throat became. Or, it can be something a little bigger, like the few dozen times I’ve walked past the building on the campus of Northern Illinois University where my father worked and pictured him galloping up the stairs with a huge smile on his face. Or, even the time when I found the blue-knit cap he wore during the course of his chemotherapy and radiation to treat an aggressive form of sinus cancer and up until the day he committed suicide two weeks after finishing treatment. Or, the smell of his clothes and how they’d remind me of his big bear hugs.
That’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a nutshell. It’s the body’s way of trying to process the massive stockpile of emotions left in the wake of a traumatic life event. Keep reading »
I recently met David through my blog. He was charming, witty and funny. After a bit of friendly Twirting (flirting via Twitter, the equivalent of computer footsie), he said he thought I was pretty funny too and even admitted to being a bit intimidated when I told him how strong my physical disability, Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, had made my arms. This bone and muscular disorder has resulted in more than 26 surgeries to correct joint contractures, scoliosis and to straighten my leg muscles. You’d be amazed how strong my arms could get just from using a walker for 20+ years. They’re like giant muscles of steel, only smaller and dotted with cute freckles.
Well, this was a first, so feeling a bit bold, I asked him to guest-post from the male perspective on a question that has nagged me since my days in high school when I’d look at other girls and how the guys easily flocked to them. The question: Why are guys so reluctant to date – at the very least, approach – a woman with a disability? Keep reading »