Living life like a camera with a disability

“Life is like a camera. Focus on what is important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out take another shot.”

The English Student 2015

One of my newfound hobbies is photography. I love to take pictures of flowers on my many walks. I also love to take photos of the interesting places that my husband and I visit. Another major part of my life has been having a Learning Disability. Having one has been a way of life for me as I was diagnosed as a young child. Looking back on having one I can see many pictures. My disability hasn’t changed, but how I view it has. The quote life is like a camera from the English Student was something that I could relate to how I saw life with a disability. The quote is “Life is like a camera. Focus on what is important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out take another shot”.

Focus on what is important has been key for me to be successful. For so many years I worried about being accepted with my disability. I wanted to hide it like it was a shameful secret. Being bullied and rejected by my peers didn’t help me to feel proud of it. I wasted so much of my time wanting to be a part of the in crowd, that I almost lost being myself. I also was too concerned about what other people thought about me getting disability services and accommodations. Many of my peers thought that using those services was cheating, or giving me an unfair advantage. When I didn’t use a note taker or extended test time my grades suffered. I had to put my effort into what worked for me. I also needed to focus on what was good in my life. For many years I was sad about what I couldn’t do and the limits that my disability placed on my life. I didn’t see the things I could do well such as reading or writing. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t get math no matter how hard I tried. When I keep the focus on what I can do it makes me feel happier and satisfied. I also feel more empowered to look for other ways to do things such as driving, that aren’t possible with my disability.

Capturing the good times has also helped me with having one. At times it can be frustrating, when events are not going the way that I want them to be. Looking back I was frustrated when I couldn’t learn or was rejected. I have those photos of despair burned in my mind, but when I go through more photos I can also see good times as well. I can see a loving family who helped me with my disability. I can see my imagination developing, to compensate for not having peer interaction. I can remember when we first moved into my childhood home, making toast out of cardboard to put in my play toaster. Having the ability to entertain myself has helped me find activities that I enjoy doing as an adult. I also can see that as I grew I had more control over creating the scene that I wanted in the picture. I got to associate with more people I wanted to be with and to go out and achieve the dreams I wanted.

Developing from the negatives was also important for me in dealing with having a disability. I had to learn that there were going to be things in my life that I simply couldn’t change. Some of what I thought were my greatest disappointments turned into my greatest blessings. A negative in a dark room doesn’t start out as a picture, it has to endure many changes. The picture appears like a blurry blot that slowly begins to take shape. I can now see that having one has helped me to develop empathy for the students that I work with. I’m also able to think outside of the box, when there is a problem. I encounter situations every day, where I need to be a problem solver. Having a disability doesn’t always give me a default option, I have to think of initiative ways to do many things.

The most important lesson has been when things don’t work out to take another shot. I have failed at many things in my life. I experienced failure early on in my life. I had to redo Kindergarten and always had that fear in the back of my head. I have failed many tests and classes. I chose not to let the failure stop me from doing what I wanted. I had to get back up and try again many times using different strategies. I wanted to give up, but I found a different way.

Looking through the pictures’ of my life I wouldn’t trade my disability i for anything. At times it would be more convenient for me not to have one, but I would miss out on so much beauty. Having one has made me to center on what was important and let the less important stuff fade in the background. I had to capture the positive things, that I almost missed. I also had to learn to turn my negatives into positives. The most important thing was not giving up, and attempting to take another shot after a set back. Having a disability will always be in the picture of my life, but it’s a beautiful one that I’m proud to display.

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