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  • Writer's pictureKaterina

Embracing The Differences

On a Friday evening in May, I started to get ready for my college semi-formal. I wore a light pink dress and white shoes. Instead of pulling my long brown hair back so it was out of my face, I decided to wear it down.

This was the very first and only dance I have ever attended. There was something different about this event. I wore my AFOs, but this time visible without wearing black leggings or covered by a longer dress. I didn’t worry about how different I looked compared to my friends who wore cute flats or high heels.

As I arrived, some of my friends greeted me at the door. Many of us were graduating from college the following week, and so it was our last event together. I didn’t want to miss out by staying home even though my body longed for rest.

Something I never would have done in the past was attend a semi-formal. I didn’t like loud music or crowds. I even remember my friends that went to them in high school, I could have attended them even though I was homeschooled. But, from my view as a teenager, I thought it wasn't worth it because of being more introverted.

Then as I transitioned to college, there was the fear of judgment as I walked with braces. I considered myself to be different from what a typical college student looks like. So I recognize now that if the dance was a few years ago, I never would have attended. But, as I have changed because of the CMT community and friends, I didn’t even have to think twice about saying yes to the dance. I just needed those seasons to learn and grow.

What I'm trying to say is don't worry about how others view your differences. It's part of what makes you beautiful and unique. So embrace it and know that those mobility devices, whether a cane, wheelchair, or leg braces, are meant to help you. And if you don’t have any at this point in life, encourage the friends or family members that do.

As a recent graduate, I recognize that the encouragement and support from others helped me get through feeling self-conscious. And who knows, maybe one day another girl with AFOs will transfer to the same college and hear about my willingness to be open about my journey. Then it may encourage her not to see it as a flaw but as what makes her different in a beautiful way.

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