2016-06-17 Posted By Jenna
The recent controversy over the film adaptation of Me Before You didn’t shock me, I had seen it before. Has anyone seen Push Girls? It was a reality TV show about 4 strong, independent, vibrant women who sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of an accident or a medical anomaly. As an avid viewer I watched as the women went to clubs, worked out, figured out how to live independently and with dignity, dated, worked, faced their demons and lived life to the fullest. I was riveted and looked up to these women. It was then, of course, a crushing blow when I realized that not everyone else did, too (I’m sensitive like that).
I was honestly shocked to find discussion boards with comments about how this show wasn’t representative of the life of every person in a wheelchair/with an SCI etc. It was suggested that they didn’t show them suffering enough or too much. Every detail was dissected, forcing me to come to my own conclusions. Yes - everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and dealing with this subject matter is very complicated and requires delicacy. But, at the end of the day, I got a lot from that show. It gave me hope. It gave me confidence. It made me thankful. It made me think. I still looked up to these women, through all their triumphs and setbacks. I admired them for sharing their story with honesty and authenticity. I took what I could and needed to to try and live my life to the fullest - even though I didn’t have the same challenges and opportunities they did.
Let’s be real here. There is no way to make one journey represent that of everyone. Just because two people have x condition does not mean that their stories will be identical - they may converge at certain points, but that’s the extent of it. If you don’t like how you think people are looking at you and are making judgments (based on what’s out there for them to learn from), decide if you’re ready and willing to put your story out there to clear up what you go through. Sure, you may never get the reach that a Hollywood movie gets, but think about all the stories that have gone viral simply because you can feel the people through your screen. In fact, you don’t even need your story to go viral to know whether or not it made a difference (if that’s your intention). In my humble opinion, you just have to hope that it made it to that one person who was so desperate to put a feeling into words, who needed validation or to know that someone understood, before they were able to close a chapter of their life and start a new one.
Nobody is going to get your story right but you, so what’s stopping you from sharing it?
My journey to Tough Mudder has been…tough. I’m not going to claim that I’m the first person in a wheelchair to tackle it, because that’s a lie, and I won’t be the last. But I will say that I would have loved to read more about the experiences of those who have come before me to know a little bit more about what I was getting myself into. So, I realized that if it ain’t out there, I have to create it! It won’t be an exact blueprint for everyone with Spina Bifida or everyone in a chair. However, I’m excited to share with you how I did what I did, why I did what I did, and who I did it with to hopefully inspire you to go on your own journey of a lifetime.