Like every overachieving high schooler, I had dreams of attending a fancy, ivy-covered college, with sprawling libraries and a quad to boot.
It didn't take long for reality to temper my dreams. My college of choice had to be within driving distance of my suburban home. Then there was accessibility to consider, and scholarships, ad infinitum.
My college experience wasn't nearly as sparkly as I'd hoped it would be. While the campus was accessible, the faculty wasn't used to providing accommodations. By the end of day, I was exhausted - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“By sophomore year, I knew something had to give. As much as I loved the academic setting, not even the ivy-covered buildings of my college were worth the constant stress of self-advocacy. The harder I fought for myself, the more I struggled, juggling classes and dropping balls everywhere.”
So, I left.
It wasn't an easy decision. It felt like I was giving up. Like I was disappointing the high schooler in me, who still longed for lecture halls and study dates. I wanted to be like everyone else in my graduating class, with their picture-perfect Instagram profiles. I wanted to be normal.
But I wasn't. I would never be. So I transferred to an online program and never looked back. Time and time again, I see this conundrum in life with SMA. I want things to be a certain way. I grew up expecting things to be a certain way - a certain education, a certain job, a certain house in a certain city with a certain way of going about my day. I pretend, if only for a while, that I am in control of my life.
Then I remember.
It seems that, whenever I learn this lesson, it doesn't take me long to forget it. Years after I transferred schools, I was faced with a similar dilemma: rack up tens of thousands of dollars in tuition so I could get an M.A. that would land me a job I probably wouldn't be able to handle or accept that some things I cannot change.
I cannot change my university's willingness to accommodate disabled folks.
I cannot change my body's ability to withstand a regular work week.
We can spend all our energy trying to make something work - shouting at the world until either it hears us or we lose our voice. We can try to be normal and beat ourselves up over things we can't control.
Or we can try something new.
I don't know about you, but I'd much rather hold life lightly - letting go of certain outcomes, and embracing whatever comes our way, trusting that we can make the best of any less-than-ideal situation.