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Apr 14

Fitting In

I am a shy person around people I do not know. I have my small group of friends that I allow into my private life. Growing up I had to allow nurses, social workers, and others into my home. Being guarded about my personal life has also kept me from always fitting in.

We all want to fit in with our peer group. As children, teens, and adults we are always looking for others whom we share similarities with. Wanting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are social beings that thrive on being together. As a child growing up with major life and death health problems, I lived in two different worlds. My mom pushed me to be as “normal” as possible, while society pushed the opposite.

I grew up not knowing others with Spina Bifida, Scoliosis, or dwarfism. I did have plenty of friends from school and in the neighborhood. I could relate to other kids when it came to sports, television, and toys. In the end I was still a kid, with the usual childhood needs and desires.

As my peers and I grew older they became more and more independent. Our worlds began to really separate for the first time. I was on oxygen during the day and a ventilator at night. I had to have nurses, aides, or my mother with me at all times. This went on until I was an adult, and I was able to learn how to take care of some of my needs on my own. It was difficult at times, but I was able to keep a lot of my friends from my childhood and teen years.

When I hit my mid-twenties I went to my first Little People of America National Conference held in Milwaukee, WI. LPA Nationals is a weeklong event with over 2,000 little people gathering in one place. For years I didn’t feel I would fit into this community, because I didn’t have any of the 200 plus types of dwarfism the LPA talked about. I made some friends and learned what little people can achieve. I went to several conferences and met some great people. I never felt 100 percent comfortable in these week long environments. I was the only one with Spina Bifida to attend such events.

I attended a Spina Bifida National Conference a few years ago. Their conference is more medical than social. I walk unassisted and have full feeling in my body. I do not have the typical damage Spina Bifida causes, but my Spina Bifida caused my Scoliosis. I did not feel I fit into his community of people either.

My peers with Scoliosis could never relate to the severity of my case. They only read about how Scoliosis can become so severe it effects the lungs. I am one of very few in the world who is living with a worst case scenario.

As the years have passed I have been blessed to become independent. I drive, own a home, and work part time. I have a social life and stay busy. Being independent has caused me to pull away from my disabled peers. I live a life today more like my able bodied friends.

I went to college, but never felt a bond with many of the other students. I was much older and had a hard time relating to the life of a college kid. I seemed to fit into the bar group well, but that was just because everyone was intoxicated. Now I fit more into the Christian group. Although, without a husband or kids this too can separate me from my fellow Christians.

I’m not one to follow the in crowd in fact I thrive at being a little different. As society tries to wrap us into categories and groups and put a bow on us. I say why?

It’s easy to get along with people you are similar to. It’s important to be part of a group and feel needed and wanted. It is also ok, not to fit neatly into one category. So be proud of being unique and original. Humans are complex beings; let us celebrate our similarities as well as our differences.

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