Understand you belong. No matter your cerebral palsy, you belong! Unfortunately, your own self-talk could try to convince you differently. Today’s post aims to equip you to overcome said negativity. By the end you will not need me saying “You belong.” Instead you will stand tall as possible, ready to declare “I BELONG!”
Trust me, I know the uncertainty. The secret anxieties you fear revealing to others. Often I reference my teenage memoir Off Balanced to demonstrate my points. I call Off Balanced my journey from embarrassment to embrace over cerebral palsy. Yet I must admit doubts remain a consistent battle. Even after learning to embrace my CP!
Appears hopeless, right? Who wants to live a life plagued by constant negativity? Since I do not intend to depress you I should quickly make my point.
Forget appearances. Hope exists! My personal supplier shares a name with a tasty breakfast cereal. I am talking about Life. No matter the situation Life always delivers. A closer look at my 5k experiences will support my words.
August 16th, 2015- A Run Through History 5k
Here offers an ideal example exposing the previously mentioned secret anxieties. On August 16th, 2015 I participated in my first 5k. A secret anxiety arose while I completed the most challenging 5k task. Pinning my bib to my shirt!
Honestly, I am only half joking. Looking around between accidental safety pin pricks I secretly feared someone would notice me. He or she then would come up to me, take my bib, and say “This isn’t for you.”
Many people might label my thoughts ridiculous. Exactly why you and I with cerebral palsy keep such anxieties secret! At least until now! I am sharing my ridiculousness to enable you to eliminate your similar thoughts. Rather than unwanted, those working A Run Through History left me feeling welcomed. Their actions sent a unified message. “You belong.”
March 20th, 2016- Lake Erie Monsters Community Fun Run 5k
A new fear accompanied me to downtown Cleveland Sunday, March 20th, 2016. Weeks prior I hesitantly registered for the Lake Erie Monsters Community Fun Run 5k. Hesitant because nowhere in the race information could I find the term “walk.” A Run Through History specified their 5k as a run/walk. Did I make a mistake?
Hijacked by my imagination my brain played out the same scene. Someone yells at me the way an angry lifeguard yells at a repeatedly misbehaving swimmer. “Run! Don’t walk. Run! Don’t walk.”
Lining up to start the race I overheard two men talking. “I hope there are other walkers in this group.” Almost in disbelief at what I heard I piped up.
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I hope there are other walkers in this group” he repeated.
“I’m walking” I said. Again, I belonged.
April 30th, 2016- Live Long Lyndhurst 5k
41 days later alongside my father I participated in the Live Long Lyndhurst 5k. Thanks to my prior 5ks I entered confident. Approaching the finish line the emcee rallied the crowd. “Here comes our final two 5kers. Let’s cheer them on.”
The award presentation further emphasized the “you belong” sentiment. The emcee started by calling my father and me up. He spoke about how every participant matters and gave us $15 gift cards. Wonderful! Minus one problem which soon emerged.
My father and I did not finish last. Somehow two participants behind us became overlooked. When they came into view workers hurriedly re-inflated the finish line marker.
“I wouldn’t want that happening to me” I thought. Hence I decided to do what I could to say “You belong.” I went over, said I saw them finish, and offered them the gift cards.
Amazing how within eight months I went from worried outsider to essentially welcoming committee member. A poetic parallel you could say. Although one I failed to spot until another four months.
August 14th, 2016- A Run Through History 5k
August 14th, 2016 I returned to Lake View Cemetery for their annual A Run Through History 5k. Following the 5k the event organizer Robin contacted me. Lake View Cemetery wished to include a blurb about me in their next newsletter. She asked me a few questions to learn about me. My responses revealed the “you belong” theme.
Due to limited space all my insights will not fit into the upcoming newsletter. Robin encouraged me to examine the “you belong” theme in-depth via a blog post. I believe the above does so.
More importantly I believe the above transcends 5ks. The overarching lesson applies to various life pursuits. Do not psych out yourself and think you do not belong. Do not think you would only get in the way.
You belong no matter your cerebral palsy. If you really want to try something, try! I bet life greets you with metaphorical open arms.
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