For many people childhood memories rekindle feelings of happiness and joy. However, for me a trip down memory lane reminds me of all the anger, frustration, and confusion I held as a child. The source of these negative feelings came in the form of my cerebral palsy (CP). I would have given anything to ride a bike up and down my street on a sunny summer day. I would have given anything to suit up for little league and experience the game of baseball on a cool summer evening. I would have given anything to blend in with everyone else and just be another student wandering the school hallways. I would have given anything, but I never had the opportunity to make such a trade.
Cerebral palsy, a neurological condition, varies by case in severity. As an adult I can say I’m fortunate to only have a mild case of CP. I don’t have to deal with symptoms like mental retardation, seizures, and inability to walk. I exhibit much less severe symptoms, such as tight muscles, awkward gait, and less than average balance. Nevertheless, as a child I focused on all the activities my cerebral palsy didn’t let me do rather than all the abilities I have. By concentrating on how CP hinders my life I came to view the condition as a plaguing curse.
One hindrance which especially didn’t sit well with me was being restricted from playing baseball. Growing up in the mid-to-late 1990s in the Cleveland area, baseball quickly became my favorite sport. The supremacy the Cleveland Indians displayed made baseball fever contagious throughout the entire area. The speed of centerfielder Kenny Lofton, the power of first-baseman Jim Thome, and the dominance of closer Jose Mesa represent a few reasons why the Cleveland Indians set an unprecedented record for consecutive home game sellouts at 455 games. I dreamed and fantasized about having the chance to dawn a Cleveland Indians uniform and play baseball in front of a sold out Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) crowd. Unfortunately, due to my cerebral palsy those dreams and fantasies would remain exactly that, dreams and fantasies.
Early on in my sophomore year of high school I finally set forth upon a new dream, featuring a realistic goal- becoming a Cleveland Indians beat reporter. If my grades from past English classes presented an accurate portrayal of my writing abilities, I could write well. I reasoned writing about the Cleveland Indians would be the next best thing to playing for the team. To work towards this goal I joined my high school’s student newspaper, The Arc Light, where I quickly became Sports Editor. Sadly, beyond a successful first year of monthly newspapers The Arc Light struggled, only releasing three more issues over the next two years. While disappointing, I gained much experience writing articles, albeit many never saw publication.
Naturally, as I progressed from high school to college I joined my college’s student newspaper, The Notre Dame News. By this time the novelty for writing about sports, and even the Cleveland Indians specifically, wore off. I joined the newspaper staff as a simple writer, writing articles for various sections. Quickly moving up the newspaper’s ranks, I found myself running The Notre Dame News as Editor-in-Chief by my junior year.
I felt reassured by my time with The Notre Dame News that writing was the right field for me. Furthermore, my college experience led me to particularly pursue a career in freelance writing. College marked the first time since I could remember that I didn’t have weekly physical therapy sessions to treat my cerebral palsy. Without such frequent physical therapy sessions I became more aware of my body’s physical needs. Pursuing a freelance writing career better allows me to meet these needs through a more flexible work schedule.
Having cerebral palsy has taught me everything happens for a reason. Cerebral palsy has turned out to be a guiding force in my life, rather than a curse. After all, I probably never would have ventured into writing if I played baseball. I was only restricted from playing baseball because I have cerebral palsy. Borrowing logic from mathematical proofs you can conclude I write because I have CP. As a child I would have given anything to free myself from cerebral palsy, but as an adult I’m glad I didn’t.