Today marked my first day as a university student. While it was an exciting day, it was also nerve-wracking.
When I walk through the halls, I can see the looks that come my way. I can see it in people’s faces when they wonder what is wrong with me.
I have Moebius syndrome. It causes me to have facial paralysis and a speech impediment. Yes, I do have Moebius, but please don’t define me by that. I am much more than my diagnosis, as are all people with disabilities and differences.
I want my fellow university students to know that I am more than what I look like, I am more than what I sound like. I am a student, just like everyone else. I am here to learn and to grow. I’ve dealt with people staring at me and making comments all my life and I imagine that there might be more of the same here, but the difference now is that I want people to know why I look and sound different. I plan on joining a disability awareness club so that I can really be the face of overcoming adversity. I want to raise awareness of disabilities, and I want to make it known that we are not that different from everyone else. Everyone wants to feel accepted and included, especially as students. When I go to sign up for a club, or to volunteer for the student newspaper, I don’t want the leaders of these things to doubt my ability solely on the way I look or sound. If they do, I know that I can prove myself and my worth.
I want my professors to know that even though I may look and sound different from others, I am here for the same reason that everyone else is. I am here to learn and to grow as a person, and to challenge myself as a student. I don’t need special accommodations. I sent most of my professors an email to introduce myself and explain a little about Moebius, but I am not seeking special treatment. I don’t want to draw attention to myself, but I think self advocacy is the best thing that anyone can do for themselves.
University is going to be difficult, I know it is. My course load is pretty heavy this semester and I am sure that I will be stressing out about that soon. I don’t mind stressing about that, it motivates me to study harder and do better. What I don’t want to stress about is whether or not people are going to stare or make rude comments to me in passing. I am writing this because I want everyone to know that I am at university for a reason, and that is to get my degree. I’m not that different from anyone here, even though I look different.
I want people to know that there is so much more to a person than what they look like. Get to know a person before you judge them, because if you don’t, you could be missing out on someone really amazing, with much to offer