𝘋𝘪𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘑𝘶𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘔𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩?!
It took a long time for me to come to terms with being “𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙,” let alone feel any 𝕡𝕣𝕚𝕕𝕖. I had a complex relationship with the word. On one hand, my body failed me in ways that made me feel I wasn’t able-bodied. On the other hand, my body hadn’t failed me 𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 that I felt like I "𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘦𝘥” the title of 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙; as if there was a certain amount of suffering I had to endure to qualify.
Over time I realized that 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚊𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚜 𝚍𝚒𝚏𝚏𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚘𝚗 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢 𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚘𝚗; it comes in all shapes and sizes. But even once I came to terms with having a disability, I still struggled with calling myself 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙. For the longest time I felt like my disabilities and chronic illnesses were something to be ashamed of and that I had to hide from the world. I felt like I wouldn’t get into veterinary school or be employable if I openly claimed my disabilities. Eventually, my disabilities impacted my life and my ability to be successful in veterinary school to the point where I couldn’t hide it anymore; I needed to ask for help. Once I started to open up about being 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙 and chronically ill, I was met with mixed reactions. Some people welcomed me into the veterinary community just as I was. Others judged me before knowing me. They judged me for something I couldn’t control before they could witness the things I could control, like work ethic and dedication. But gradually, I realized I didn’t want to work for or with anyone who viewed me as an inconvenience or less than qualified because I am 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙. I want to work with those who value and give opportunities for growth and learning, not those who feel I have to constantly prove myself because I have a disability. I’m here to show that 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮 𝗳𝗼𝘂𝗿-𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗱. It’s not a dirty word you should be scared to say. There is NO shame in being 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙, and it’s not something you have to hide. 𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕖 𝕚𝕤 𝕒 𝕡𝕝𝕒𝕔𝕖 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕡𝕖𝕠𝕡𝕝𝕖 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕕𝕚𝕤𝕒𝕓𝕚𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕚𝕖𝕤 𝕚𝕟 𝕧𝕖𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕚𝕟𝕒𝕣𝕪 𝕞𝕖𝕕𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕟𝕖