Looking at the positives of living with impairment is a subversive act. We are told any impairment is a burden and something to be overcome.
I find living with impairment very difficult at times because I am coping with the limitations of my body, plus other people’s reactions to how I am. This can at times lead me to despair. However, I believe the experience can develop some valuable skills for living.
CP affects my speech and fine motor coordination. This means that almost every interaction I have with the world is affected by CP.
So what are the positive qualities I can add to my CV because of my experiences?
I have lots of determination.
I learnt at a young age that I needed to be flexible in the way I approached life because my body worked differently. So being flexible and having the ability to “think outside the box” comes naturally to me now.
Learning physical skills such as typing, dance steps and driving have taught me patience. I learnt with practise I could slowly improve.
I also need to be patient with people who don’t understand my speech. And patience is required to build relationships with people who find the way I talk a challenge.
The ability to build community
I can’t do everything on my own. Building community invites people to exercise their gifts and talents towards a common purpose. Many people are more than willing to be asked to participate.
My life hasn’t been straight forward, particularly in terms of employment. I have had to be resilient when faced with disappointment.
I’ve had to find ways forward which are life giving, like doing voluntary work and accepting the encouragement of friends. And if something doesn’t work out I always need to be willing to search for a new direction.
Acceptance of difference
My experience of difference has taught me to be more sensitive and inclusive of others who are not like myself. It has also helped me to recognise the need to listen openly to all people.
In conclusion I’m learning that CP does contribute to who I am and it isn’t all negative. I think who we are and what we achieve comes as a result of living alongside our impairment, rather than striving to overcome it.