My first day of high school was terrifying.
“Why is she here?”
“Is she going to be in our class?”
I had come from a small primary school of 80 where everyone knew each other, to a place where I hardly knew anyone of almost 900 kids and everyone was staring at me.
I wanted to shout, to scream, that what they saw wasn’t who I was.
I wanted to fit in — but it’s hard to fit in when you’re in a wheelchair.
I haven’t always been in one.
It’s progressive; I used to be able to run around with everyone else, swing upside down on the monkey bars, and get involved with all my friends.
But it got harder. Soon I couldn’t run a lap of the oval, and then I started using a walker.
When I got to high school, my parents said it would be much easier to get around if I was in a wheelchair.
The wheelchair helped me, but people would look at me like I was some sort of alien.
But I’m not that different really. I’m like most teenage girls.
My friends and I all talk about the same movies, same TV shows, same books.
That’s why it was so frustrating when people would look down at me in the wheelchair and speak to me like I was a little kid — I wanted to say, “Speak to me like I’m a teenager”.
I hated myself for a long time and questioned why it happened to me.
I spent a lot of time trying to fit in with everyone else, but when I was choosing my senior school subjects, I thought: “Who do I really want to be?”
I will always stand out and that’s OK.
The wheelchair isn’t who I am, but it’s definitely shaped who I am.
And I really like the person I am.
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