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  • Writer's pictureLily Wells

​How I Learned to Accept My Disability

Updated: Mar 26

Here’s a big question: Who are you? 

I would say that I am an outgoing, loving, disabled person. Not too long ago, I would've omitted “disabled” from that sentence. It's weird because I've always been highly aware that I am disabled, but I never fully took it and owned it with pride. More so, it was like a festering inconvenience.

I’ve realized after my sixteen years on this earth that in my subconscious, I have constantly feared being rejected and ostracized because of my disability, so I made up for it by constantly acting outgoing and endearing to those around me, just to fill that hole of fear. I have Hemiplegia, which affects my right hand significantly, but those around me may not notice unless they get close up. Nevertheless, I constantly felt that to be accepted, I had to distance myself from the disabled community even though they would be able to understand what I was going through. I created an outgoing persona to fill my personal need for others to never question my disability, or perhaps to never see it at all.

Even though I’ve never been told explicitly that my disability was revolting, I have always

A young white womanwith short purple hair and glasses smiling at the camera

feared that the day may come, and so I would hide in the masses as someone attempting to look non-disabled. It felt nice to be accepted by non-disabled people who “fit the mold” of perfectly average humans with no perceived “flaws.” Yes, I hate to admit it, but I had seen my disability as a flaw, and so I tried to do what I had always done before: hide it. When people asked me about my hand, I would often tell outlandish stories like “a dinosaur got ahold of it” or that “I scraped my hand badly.” I tried not to tell anyone about the thing that I had hated the most about myself, using my outgoing personality as a crutch to try to steer the conversation away from my disability. It worked, so I continued to pass as non-disabled until I was forced outside my comfort zone and into something extremely different; a world full of people with disabilities.

You’re probably wondering right now, “Lily, haven’t you ever known that there were people that had disabilities?” and the answer is complicated. Yes, I knew that others like me existed, but I grew up in a town with the majority of the population being non-disabled people that grew uncomfortable even mentioning my disability. I didn’t fully know what hemiplegia even was until the age of twelve when my mother sat me down and decided to ask me not to explain my disability to adults as “I have a stroke” like I used to do. So, if you’re catching on, I had never met another person that was disabled until recently.

When my mother chucked me into this new world of disabled people by signing me up for EmpowHer Camp, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had been passing as a person without a disability, so what was I supposed to do now that I was around others that did know my secret, even though they could perhaps understand what I was going through? The answer was to fight with my inner ableism to start on the journey to accepting my disability. Through many tears and hardships in EmpowHer Camp, I finally learned that hiding my disability is never the best option, because my disability is a part of me, and keeping that hidden was a crime that was cruel and unhealthy to me.

Even though I’m still fighting with myself about how to accept my disability, I’ve learned that disabilities should never feel shameful, and I shouldn’t use my outgoing nature to hide my disability. As corny as it sounds, accepting my disability was one of the most freeing moments in the world, and that is truly a part of the self-love we should all share.

Lily Wells (she/they) is a rising junior in high school who likes to play video games. When she is not having an internal struggle with who they are, they like to read, write, and listen to music. As the eldest child, Lily strives to live to see the end of the day, every day.


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