It gets better
I want to take a moment to write a little something about myself here, in hopes that it will help those of you who are feeling a little down.
As many of you by now know, I’m disabled. I was born 12 weeks early, and had a brain hemorrhage, which led to hemiplegia on the left side of my body. In practice, it means that I can’t really control the left side of my body and it mostly affects my motor skills.
When I was younger, it was never much of a problem. As a child, you don’t really care. I was just the little girl that walked funny and while, sure, other kids whispered and pointed, it never really bothered me much.
It got a little harder in high school. I had trouble keeping up and I couldn’t carry my book bag so others had to do it for me. It was not something they did willingly. This got worse when the government issued me a laptop so I could keep up. I was bullied. I was an easy target.
My parents had asked my school not to give me any special treatment, so one day, my class had a fieldtrip to go skiing. I, as you can imagine, cannot. So, the school wrote me down as ‘unwilling to participate’ and I had to sit in school and make extra homework as punishment. They did not understand. I was not only bullied by my classmates, but also by my school.
At this point, I was 16, and I was having such a hard time that I fell into depression, and fell hard. To a point where I told my mother I was suicidal. Things changed from then on. People see me as someone who is always smiling, and I was. But that changed everything. It was a shock to everyone. But it was out in the open, and things changed.
I got help, I got medication, I got a wheelchair (because walking was getting fairly difficult, too) and I switched schools, going into special education instead. I wasn’t on medication for long, and the changes in my life helped me get by. I finished high school, and I went to university, which is where I started to feel like myself again. This is where it truly got better.
Most of you are high schoolers, and I’m asking you to stick it out. Because when you go to university, it gets better. People are there because they want to be. They’re trying to prove themselves and trying to grow as a person, so they’re less likely to have time to bully you. They’re more likely to want to get on with you. I got on with everyone. I studied communication and multimedia design and I got my own place to live. I became, much more, an individual. I discovered I liked art when I was nineteen. You’re never too old to discover things you love. And you don’t have to study that which you love. I’ve never had a single art class in my life.
Internships during my studies made me feel appreciated for my skills. I gained self confidence, and it was my last internship that also got me the job I still have today. For me, everything turned around after high school.
I fell back into depression a year ago, but I also got back up again. Even that gets easier. Now, I own my own house, I’ve traveled all over the world, I have the internet to keep in touch with all of you, I have my own illustration business, I have a job, I provide for myself.
I felt like telling you: it does get better. It’s still hard sometimes. But it gets easier to deal with. As you get older, it’s easier to rationalize. It’ll simply be less hard. You all get hints of me struggling sometimes. I struggle often. But I like to think it makes me stronger. So, I’d like to encourage you to fight. And to talk to me if you need to. Be stronger. Be better!