Braille Monitor                                     March 2017

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Stand Up

by Courtney Cole

Courtney ColeFrom the Editor: Courtney is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia. However, after a move in high school due to her father’s military career, she fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. She now attends Seattle University in Seattle, Washington, studying psychology. She is on the staff of Rooted in Rights, a Disability Rights Washington program, where she works as a creative production intern to help in the production of media which advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. She is a member of her state affiliate of the NFB and has been elected vice president of the Association of Blind Students for her state. In her spare time she enjoys writing her blog, playing ukulele, and singing. Like Courtney herself, her article is short but powerful. Here is what she has to say:

Everything feels surreal right now. I've spent the past two days at Seattle University, my new school, for orientation. My new school. It's still sinking in, as you can probably tell. It's so incredible because I sincerely, in all honesty, did not think I would live to see life after high school. I'm sure many of you can relate. In fact I think everyone feels that way at some point during secondary school.

Now that time is over. I've finally stepped into the chapter of my life where people really start to define themselves, and I'm so excited. I know I have stars in my eyes for something brand new and that eventually it will become a place where I have a routine. In other words, the honeymoon phase will end.

Of all the information I learned at orientation, I can't help but feel excited about how I walked with my cane confidently, how I introduced myself to others, and how I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. There was a portion of the orientation where we all assembled to discuss diversity. The speaker would say statements, and if it applied to you, you would stand. For me it pointed out that we are all very different, but we all have unique challenges and components to our lives that make us who we are.

"If you have or live with someone who has a disability, please stand."

To many of the students there the activity may have felt like a waste of time or just too invasive. Most of them probably thought it was stupid, and yeah, maybe it was a little melodramatic. There was a time when I would have felt the same, but yesterday I couldn't. I was too busy standing as tall as my four-foot-eleven stature would allow. In that moment, I realized that I am nothing but proud and confident about who I am. Everyone has their own challenges, and mine have made me who I am. I'm no longer ashamed or apologetic because I have different abilities from everyone else. This is all to say, “Do not be like me.” Don't wait until you are eighteen years old to feel comfortable in your skin and to be proud of who you are. And if you're older than eighteen, do not wait another second. Time putting yourself down and not loving yourself is wasted time, and, in addition, you are preventing yourself from so much. You're going to make mistakes, and you have flaws. We all do. But you will never learn from them if you're consumed with punishing yourself.

Don't be your own worst enemy. Be proud of who you are, and don't let anyone dictate how you feel about yourself. Stand up, and start moving.

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