Listen Up!

If there is one piece of advice that I would give to the teenage version of myself, I would say, “be patient with yourself.”

From as far back as I can remember, I thought that I knew it all. I was a little girl with big plans right from the start, thinking to myself that someday they would write about me in history books. Over time, I got older and slowly experienced the disappointment of a mundane existence.

By the time I reached high school, I felt lost in my body. Somewhere during my childhood I guess I had come to the conclusion that my physical disability left me at a deficit; because I was born with physical limitations, that meant I was supposed to demonstrate perfection in every other way. At times high school seemed like nothing more than a crash course in the nots:

I was NOT the smartest, NOT the prettiest, NOT the coolest…

Who we are and who we think we are supposed to be are often two different things. What I have learned is that it takes a lot of guts to open yourself up to new things, possibly experience failure, and then make the deliberate choice to move forward when life doesn’t go as you plan.

This process of self-discovery is a lifelong journey. It is rocky and full of exciting highs and sometimes devastating lows. For myself, I wasn’t able to see what was really there until after I was stripped of the original conceptions I had created for myself … most of them acting as the destructive outcome of comparing myself to everyone around me.

But for you, my wish is that sooner rather than later, you come to understand that who you are is exactly who you are supposed to be.

About the Author

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Anna Gouker

Anna is a writer and advocate – check out her blog: Anna Works…Let’s talk about employment, empowerment, and disability. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from UW-Madison.
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