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Life Lessons I Have Learned From Living With a Disability

Have you ever heard the phrase “turn your disability into your ability?” That is how I try to live my life. In my twenty-three years of life, I have had to overcome many obstacles. I was born in Boston in 1998 with a neurological condition called hydrocephalus, and I have had several brain surgeries as a result. I was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6. While I don’t want to go into much detail about the obstacles I have faced, I want to share what I have learned living as a young woman with a disability. Additionally, despite the obstacles that I have faced, I try my best to not let them stop me from living a happy life. I hope to encourage you to not let the obstacles of your life get in your way, and that you will be inspired by the lessons that I have set out to teach. 

Lesson #1: Having a Disability Does Not Make You Weak

If you are a disabled person and you feel like your disability makes you weaker than an able-bodied person, I encourage you to change your mindset. Having a disability makes you a stronger person.

Some people may not believe this to be true, but because I have had to learn to fight for my rights and have had to fight so hard to receive an equal voice in this fast-paced world, I have learned that in some ways having a disability can be like having a superpower. It may be hard, but nevertheless, you learn to push on. This often makes me think of the quote about Elizabeth Warren: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” YES, I HAVE!

Lesson #2: Having A Disability Does Not Make You “Weird”

While I once believed this to be true (particularly in elementary school and high school when I was in special education), maturity has taught me otherwise. However, even though I realize that this fact is indeed not true, I still have issues in wholeheartedly believing it at certain times. I then remind myself that everyone is a little weird. Please be kind to those who are different, as you never know what people think of themselves. Being kind could make their day. And remember, everyone is going through things you couldn’t begin to imagine. 

Lesson #3: Having a Disability Should Not Define You 

While some may fall into this notion, they should not believe it. You are more than just your “disability” and you should never let anyone try to tell you otherwise. While this might not happen as much in college, I want to remind you that if someone is trying to limit you or treat you differently because you have a disability please do not let them. In turn, if you meet someone who is disabled, please do not treat them this way. Instead, say hello to them. You never know where a lasting friendship could come from!

In conclusion, I hope that this article helps you understand the mindset of a person with a disability (or at least my experiences of living with a disability). I also hope that it inspires you to treat people who have disabilities (and honestly everyone) with respect and to always be kind because you never truly know what a person is going through. While not everyone in the world has a disability, everyone has obstacles they have to overcome. Just remember… YOU GOT THIS!

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Julia Duprey

U Mass Amherst '23

Hi! My name is Julia Nicholas Duprey! I am originally from Leyden, MA, a small town on the MA-VT border. I am currently a Journalism major and I am a community college transfer student. I am interested in many different things such as women's, political, and disability advocacy, fashion, makeup, spending time with my animals (I love both cats and dogs!), and my family. I also love watching television and movies and reading. I aspire to be a personality on radio and or television. I am also the president of The College Diabetes Network UMass Amherst Chapter! My socials are: https://www.instagram.com/julianicholasduprey/ https://www.instagram.com/jndphotostudio/ https://vsco.co/julianicholasduprey/gallery
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