Dear 13 Year Old Me:
You’re doing fine, and if you don’t listen to any of the little tips I’m about to give you, you’ll still be fine. Just keep them in mind, especially over the next ten or 15 years or so:
- Don’t blow off the idea of exploring relationships and sexuality, just because you’re convinced nobody would “want you”, and because right now you don’t actually really mind. You will think differently later on, and lack of earlier experiences can be a far greater hinderance than your physical appearance ... which, incidentally, isn't as weird as you think it is. Your default setting is to be a loner, and that’s fine, but it means you need to practice sharing your life with others, and letting them share their lives with you.
- Get away from Mom and Dad as much as possible. They are great, and I don’t mean you should literally leave them or push them away. But they have their own issues, and you could waste a lot of time tangled up in them when you should be exploring your own community apart from them.
- Learn how to work hard and work smart as soon as possible. Get a job, or at least a complex, demanding volunteer position. Look for ways to challenge yourself academically beyond what’s immediately available at school. You may have disabilities, but a lot of things come fairly easy to you, and you need to learn what it's like to do the harder things well.
- Try to meet other disabled kids and adults. Don’t try to act like you’re not one of them, because no matter what anyone says and regardless of what you’ve convinced yourself, you are. Plus, contrary to what you think now, lots of other disabled people are fun, amazing, and great to be around.
- Your disability aside, you have a lot of advantages. Don’t feel bad about using them, but don’t coast on them.
Like I said, you are doing fine. But “fine” doesn’t have to be the highest achievement you aim for. Just because you are disabled, doesn’t mean you can’t do better. Be happy, but don’t feel you have to settle for “fine” forever.