There aren’t many role models in the CP community; some are coming out of the woodwork thanks in large part to social media, but it’s still not a lot, it’s certainly not enough. For those of us who have long been acquainted with the CP community this is not new information.
I noticed that Ronnie posted the speech he gave to the Southern Arizona chapter of CFF. I have a few things in the works that include but are not limited to speaking to groups of people so I’ve been watching other people give talks rather closely. I admire & respect Ronnie a lot so I paid close attention.
(Go ahead and watch before you continue reading because it’s pretty great)
While I can’t completely identify with Ronnie I can certainly relate.
I can relate to growing up and having to devote time to activities that were essential to my physical wellbeing, time that I would’ve rather spent doing something else, and probably making more friends in the process.
I can relate to being told that I “would never” or “I will probably never.”
I can relate to being able to prove people wrong, and not being able to see what I big deal it was (at least in the moment).
Not too long after a tweet caught my attention and fit quite nicely with Ronnie’s speech.
My short answer to this tweet is “Yes.”
My long answer is “I absolutely do,” see the very first sentence of this post as to why.
I feel a responsibility because I wasn’t given the luxury of being able to blend in as easily as my peers. I would be naive to think that no one is ever paying attention to what I’m doing, so I better be doing something “right” or “good” or however you choose to label it, because I’m held to a certain standard (not higher, just different).
Have I always lived up to that standard? Absolutely not and I still don’t, at least not all of the time. Thankfully the majority of my not-so-great moments were reserved for the presence of close friends and family; if I can’t like an idiot in front of them then who else is there(?)
I agree that many people with CP (or other conditions) don’t see themselves to be a role model or even the need to be one. It’s like when a famous person gets asked about their behavior and they reply “I never asked to be a role model,” in my opinion. No, you never asked to be one, very few people actually do, but you are one anyway.
I wish I wasn’t, don’t get me wrong. I wish there were no such need for role models but they’re needed for countless reasons so there’s a need to be one.
You may not want to be a role model but the truth is it’s not about you. (Shocking, I know) It’s about the community as a whole. It’s about the kid who will one day be in your shoes. It’s about you being the “someone like me” you searched for growing up. It’s about telling other parents what you wish your parents knew when you were growing up.
It’s not about you. It’s about your chance to have an impact on someone else. It’s about giving someone (anyone at all) the chance at the life you wish you could’ve had if you were given the chance to do it all over again, or not.
I feel personally obligated to be a role model because too many others do not.
*A similar version of this post was written on November 20, 2013