This is the time of year where soon to be graduating high school students learn which Universities or Colleges they have been accepted in. They now have to make the gut wrenching decision of where to go. They will look at many factors - programs, reputation, scholarships/bursaries, etc.
This made me think back to when I had to make the same difficult decision. In addition to what other kids had to consider, having Cerebral Palsy, using a power wheelchair, and needing to find personal care to help me shower, dress, etc. This made the decision even more incredibly difficult.
I was torn between my loves of Computer Science and Business. Also, what was seeming attractive was to take a year off to discover myself like some of my other friends. I was really struggling.
My dad was watching me struggling to decide. He said, “Let’s be real, your not going to be a policeman, fireman, or construction worker. You know what else your not going to be? Living under my roof for free the rest of your life! You better decide.”
My dad had a way to be direct and real…
Only now I can appreciate what anxiety my parents were going through. Not only were they going to have their youngest leave home to start their life journey, but for the first time they were going to have to trust complete strangers to take care of their disabled child who is dependent to have someone get them ups in the morning, shower, dress, get to class, etc…”. They fought numerous battles with schools and governments to give me this opportunity…now…we were all vulnerable to what was going to become our new lives.
I had a huge amount of anxiety just dealing with going away for school like all other kids do. Away from my family. Away from all my friends. Away from the only town I have ever known to move to a new city.
I went away. I handled the harder academic workload. I trusted and managed my personal care. I learned to figure out how to manage to go shopping to buy shampoo and food. That magical shampoo bottle I had growing up at home that never ran empty did not come with me. My magical fridge that miraculously replenished itself with more food was also left behind.
I learned. I overcame. I was lonely. I made lifelong friends. I have amazing experiences, some of them make me appreciate that I went to university pre-smartphone and social media era. I made mistakes. I got opportunities. I became me.
I have multiple degrees and a diploma as I’m a lifelong learner. However, what I learned about myself, resilience, and independence far exceeds my academic achievements.
Thank you mom and dad. We did it. I love you.