It's Throwback Thursday again - and this is definitely me - rocking a very 90's hairstyle - at fourteen. Ironically, even though I've got my crutches in this picture, this was the year I realized that using my wheelchair at school actually freed me up to do a lot more.
I wasn't spending all of passing time trying to get one place to another and avoiding crowded halls. In high school, I could go where I wanted when I wanted. It was a revelation for a kid who, at the thought of using my chair at school, was mortified. In my mind, I didn't "need" to use it, even though the high school I attended was huge and it would have been unrealistic (and exhausting) for me to walk the entire day.
Freshman year was pretty awesome. Yes, getting up the giant ramp to the cafeteria, gym and choir room was intense, but it was my own personal challenge, and I often turned down offers of help, because it was all worth it when I got to coast back down. I set the record for the static arm hang in gym class. Even though I had to be lifted up to reach the bar, and lifted back down to the floor that 1 minute 17 seconds made any potential embarrassment worth it. No one made fun of the kid who had the best time - who even managed to outlast the girl on the gymnastics team by 5 seconds.
There were instances of bullying (one, in particular). There were kids who used the accessible bathroom stalls to smoke cigarettes in. There was that feeling I could never quite shake that I would have made it into a higher-level choir if I weren't obviously disabled. But overall? It was a great time in my life. I remember being happy with myself, and not often wanting to be different, or FEELING especially different. I had teachers who pushed me academically. I had friends. It was a pretty carefree time.
It's nice to look back at.