Adapting and Fitting In

We all want to fit in. What does that look like? Who do we want to be?

I believe that everyone deals with this feeling of being left out at some point in their life. When you are physically disabled, that feeling can happen more often.

There have been a lot of events in my life that I couldn’t participate in.

Lacking confidence as a teenager

I lacked confidence in my younger years. Looking back as an adult, I think a lot of teens struggle with confidence. There is a lot of pressure to fit in when we are in our teen years.

As teens, we put a lot of emphasis on physical appearance. I too was guilty of this. I was extremely self-conscious of my skinny legs.

Missing out due to SMA

I missed out on a lot of experiences in my younger years. Some of these experiences were not physically possible due to my SMA.

For instance, I never really got to participate in team sports. I love sports, especially football and baseball. I would have enjoyed being able to compete in both of those sports.

Looking back, I limited myself due to my lack of confidence when it came to dealing with my physical limitations. I imagine a lot of you can relate.

If you’re a younger reader please learn from my mistakes. Start overcoming your confidence issues at a younger age. Step out of your comfort zone. You’ll surprise yourself.

Adapting in order to fit in

I have learned to adapt over the years to fit in. When I was still working, we had an office softball team and there were regular golf outings.

These were two things that I couldn’t actively participate in, however, I would still show up at these events. When working in an office setting, I found that these events are a great way to network outside of the office.

These interactions were invaluable because they gave me the opportunity to learn more about the politics of the office.

Missed opportunities due to my disability

When I was still working in an office setting, our Mortgage division was using older technology from the previous company before the merger. A few years after the merger, the company wanted everyone on their platform and they phased out the other company’s platform.

When this was happening, they sent the managers from different departments to go out of state for a few weeks to learn this new platform from our sister office. This was an opportunity that I couldn’t partake in because of my disability.

Ask for assistance to be able to participate

These are just a few examples of opportunities that I was able to adapt to and also an example of where I wasn’t able to participate at all. These sorts of things happen to everyone, disabled and non-disabled.

However, for us disabled folks, I think it can be hard to just get over the fact that we couldn’t participate because of physical barriers. However, I want to encourage you to be resourceful. Step out of your comfort zone.

Ask for extra assistance and do what you can to participate even if it’s on a limited basis. Seize all opportunities! You won’t regret it.

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