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University, Here I Come!

Finding independence as a young adult

They say it takes a village to raise a child; in our family we called that village Team Ben. I spent my childhood surrounded by my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, all of whom have helped to make my life a happy one. In the coming Fall, I’m looking forward to entering a new stage of adulthood and independence, where I have to act as my own advocate when I leave home to attend university in Ontario and study political science and international relations.

My chosen area of study encompasses a lot of my interests and I’m hopeful that it will lead me down one of my career paths of choice. I picture myself becoming a lawyer, seeking political office, or working in international diplomacy and speaking before the United Nations. Ultimately, I want to be a leader in my life and in the lives of others. I see leadership as a way to create change in the world and I’m excited that the next chapter of my life is going to be dedicated to mastering that skill.

The main thing that I’m looking forward to about university is the opportunity to meet new people.

As a child, I felt self-conscious about having SMA and it sometimes got in the way of my connection with my peers. I couldn’t always empathize with those around me who felt curious or intimidated by me and my chair. My biggest fear was that others’ perspective of SMA would constrain me, that they would only be able to think of me as a person with a disability.

I don’t find it useful to victimize myself as a person living with SMA anymore. I could dwell on the fact that I can’t run around like some of my friends or ski in the same way that my brothers do, but that would just stand in the way of me getting to where I know I can go in life. I think it’s better to maintain a more positive outlook and consider the fact that I’m lucky to be in the position that I’m in.

I have a supportive community around me and I have ambition—those are the things that matter to me in life.

Sharing the positivity that I feel and helping others understand SMA and life with a disability is a win-win. I firmly believe that even one positive experience with a person with SMA can make a difference. Whenever I spend time with a new friend, I always make an effort to make sure that they are comfortable asking any questions they may have about SMA. I’m excited to share those experiences with my future peers while we all muddle our way through the independent life of university.