By Grace Doran, IATG ContributorJuly 12, 2016
Independence, in its simplest form, means freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. Independence means all of this and much more to me.
I'm a senior in highschool, and I'm about to start applying for colleges. This isn’t just the time when I figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, but it’s also the first time I will be completely on my own.
Growing up disabled, you’re confined to a bubble of protection. You always have people doing things for you, and even when you think you're on your own, there’s always someone there to catch you when you fall. I'm not sure what people expect from me, if they think that I’ll fail or overcome the stereotypes and beat the odds.
I'm ready to take on the challenge and prove to the ones that doubted me that I’ll do better than they ever expected me to.
Ever since I became disabled in 5th grade, I’ve had an aide that accompanies me while I'm at school. My aide has always been there for me, doing things that I might not be able to do by myself, like writing or helping me walk around. But now I’m trying to be more independent. There are some things that I still need help with, but for the most part I have become more independent in my daily life.
Now, in the summer before I begin my senior year, I'm trying to figure out what type of college I want to finish my education at. When I go to college, it will be the first time that I won’t be able to rely on those around me. For the first time in my life, I will be completely on my own. I'm planning to become a lawyer, focusing on advocating for disability rights. I'm also going to start driving soon. Because of my disability, my goals may take a little longer, but I'm getting there.
Betty Friedan once said, “It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question 'who am I' except the voice inside herself”.
I'm lying if I don't say that it scares me, and the path to true independence will not be easy, but for the first time I think I might be ready to take charge of my own life and begin down the path.
We all experience profound change in our lives. Sometime it can be overwhelming and scary to go off on our own. When is a time where you were forced to move out of your comfort zone? What impact did it have on your life?
Gracie has been a competitive dancer since age 7, dancing and training 10 hours a week. Then she had a stroke that paralyzed her. Using her training and determination she was able to learn to walk, talk and eat again. Then, she started to dance again. She has been able to dance in front of thousands of people and has won many awards and recognition for her work. www.graciedoran.com