Find a Way to Shine, No Matter What
By Jennifer Hansford (@HansfordJen-twitter)
My life’s ambition has always been to inspire people and give them hope in some way. I want to do this, because I have always needed something or someone to give me hope too, and I know how important it is.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy. I can walk, and to do things pretty independently, but I do have a distorted way of walking, which I have always been self-conscious of, as people would often stare at me, or say mean things.
When I was around 9 years old, and in fourth grade, I had an operation on my hip, and tendons in my legs. In the process of my recovery I had to learn to walk again. It was pretty painful, but I have always been a determined person, and nothing in my life has been easy, so this was just another thing for me to get through.
I was made fun of a lot as a child, because of the way I walk, and sometimes even in my high school years. I remember one particular girl who was in one of the same classes as I was, who had started to say some things to me that I didn’t like. I don’t remember what they were, but I do remember losing my patience with the situation and saying to her, something like, ‘I don’t appreciate being made fun of for something I can’t control.’ She left me alone after that.
The one place I did feel like I belonged, was in college, where I studied journalism. School became like a second home to me, and I had the best professors in the world. My main professor, the one who taught us about reporting and newspaper layout, was one of the reasons I have always tried to remain in the journalism field. I remember him telling me, “If I give you a story that you can’t get to (possibly because of stairs, or something that might be difficult to navigate) just tell me, and I’ll put you on another one,” or perhaps he would find a way to get me to the one that was assigned to me. He told me there should be no reason why I shouldn’t have a great career in the field. Sometimes, though, the rest of society doesn’t share this type of attitude.
I have only freelanced for various publications, and I liked doing that, but I wanted to have a staff job at a newspaper, so I could feel like I had a ‘real career.’ A lot of staff jobs were unattainable for me, since I can’t drive on my own, which is why I liked freelancing. I could get around by bus, or someone driving me, and the editor was non-the-wiser, since I had never met my editors in person. I wasn’t judged by how I got my story finished, and they were unaware of my physical disability. They were just happy with the finished product. I had gone to an employment agency that is supposed to help people with disabilities get a job they want, and had asked them to call newspapers on my behalf, and assure them that I am perfectly qualified and able to do the actual job of researching, and writing an article, even though getting around has to be done in a different way than anyone else would. The worker I spoke to told me she wasn’t going to do that, and that if a career in journalism was going to happen for me, it would have happened by now.
This is the kind of attitude I wish I could help get rid of in society. Those who are ‘advocating’ for people with disabilities, especially should not have this attitude. I guess that’s part of the reason why I have an interest in journalism. Everyone has a story, and some people need others to make that story known. Everyone needs a voice, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. I wanted to be the one to share those stories, and bring awareness to things that need attention and respect.
Two years, however, I developed health issues with my throat, which left me not being able to swallow food properly. I have lost a lot of weight, and also lost a lot of my hair, which I’m assuming is because of poor nutrition. I’m very weak most of the time and sleep a lot during the day, so I do my creating at night. I didn’t want to completely give up on all my writing goals, so I created my blog called Exuding Energy. This is a place for me to still do some form of article writing, as I find people willing to share their stories, ask them questions, then write about it. I decided to focus on what, and who, inspires people to keep trying to achieve their goals, while they are facing challenges or difficult times, because blogging became my way of staying positive during my own struggles.
This is my way of still sharing people’s stories and giving them a voice, while still giving myself a voice too. To all the people who also have disabilities, whatever they may be, I hope you’ll continue to do what it is that makes you happy, no matter how you have to do it. We may have to do things differently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it well…Right?
If you have a story to share, I hope you’ll share it with me. I also have a YouTube channel, which will be based on my blog (I only have two videos posted right now, but I hope you’ll check them out), so if you have any video or photos to accompany your story and wouldn’t mind me making a video version of your story, please feel free to send them along as well.
The link to my blog-https://theexudeblog.wordpress.com/
The link to my YouTube page-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQydLY3VDFXOxoz0gQ1qsyg
Thanks so much to Sassy for allowing me to share my story on your blog!