Be different. Be strong. Be You.

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Many times I’ve wondered about how different my life would be if I didn’t have disabilities, if maybe I was in my mom’s womb at the same time as my brothers. They don’t have disabilities. Maybe I wouldn’t. But that’s not how it turned out.

And I think about how hard my life has been, how different I feel from my peers, how much anxiety I feel because I am different. I realize that some people don’t accept others with differences, and that’s painful.

But I am different, and I do love myself. I do love my life, and I try every day to conquer those feelings of anxiety and difference so that my life can be happier, and more productive, and more beautiful. Because I know that this adversity makes me stronger. I am strong. I have to be strong. I have to believe in myself. I have to speak up for myself. I need to let the world know that every person, every living creature, deserves a chance to fit in, to be appreciated, to be loved, to be successful, to make a difference, to carry on. We need to show the world that we can be different and still make a difference. And I know now that the very thing that defines me — my disabilities —can also provide OPPORTUNITY for me. I love being with people, and helping people. And I love animals, and taking care of animals. I want to dream and follow my dreams.

I know I will find my way, doing things that I love, making new friends and creating a circle of supporters who will be there for me and embrace me as I am.