Using Your Disability to Impact Lives

The beauty of sharing our stories lies not just in the telling, but also in the impact they can have on others. My recent journey to a different state for an author visit turned into a profound life lesson for me, teaching me the true essence of impact through vulnerability and genuine connection.

Sharing my expereinces with disability

I embarked on this journey with a set agenda – to speak about my children’s book, which revolves around disabilities. Over the course of multiple days, I found myself spending more than eight hours at a private school, sharing my experiences with spinal muscular atrophy with over 600 children. Initially, my plan was simple: educate these young minds about disabilities. However, their raw and unfiltered questions soon transformed my visit into something far more significant than I had anticipated.

While public speaking isn't everyone's cup of tea, if you find joy in sharing the nuances of your life, I can begin to explain the amazing impact it can’t have not only in others but your own life. Every hour, I opened the floor to the children's questions. They ranged from innocent queries like my favorite color to more personal ones, such as how I eat my chicken nuggets. While seemingly silly on the surface, these questions served as a simply reminder of something incredibly deep: By simply being open about my life, I allowed these children to see past my disability and recognize me for the human being I am.

Portraying myself as just another human

Even more heartwarming was witnessing some children come forward, shedding any inhibitions they might have had, and sharing about their own disabilities or those of someone close to them. Their eyes sparkled not with embarrassment, but with pride and joy.

Before I had arrived to the places I would be visiting and sharing, the teachers had prepped the kids a bit about inclusion, kindness and even some of my own personal story. The kids then created special notes for me that because one of my favorite parts of the experience. Among these notes, my favorites were the ones with endearing misspellings, with heartfelt messages like, "Thank you for telling me I'm unique" or "I believe I'm special."

The ripple effect of sharing personal stroies

These innocent messages are a testament to the ripple effect of sharing personal stories. They validate not just the storyteller's journey but also provide a sense of belonging and understanding to the listeners.

My journey started as a mission to share my story and educate young minds about disabilities. However, it ended up being a humbling experience, teaching me the power of authenticity and vulnerability. While I might have gone there to answer their “silly” questions, I left with a renewed perspective on life, carrying with me the innocence and curiosity of those children.

I am now reminded daily to view others not through the lens of preconceived notions, but with genuine intrigue, seeking to understand and learn from every interaction. After all, isn't that what life is all about? Sharing, learning, growing, and impacting lives in ways we could never have foreseen. I’m just thankful I get to use my story, though some would see as a hard one, to impact others.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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