Hi AllAfter reading the stories and comments of several of you here, I have been inspired to post mine. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy around the time I was one year old, and from the very beginning my parents did an excellent job of making sure that I got the therapy and whatever other care I needed. I have a relatively mild case of CP (spastic diplegia, with the left leg worse than the right) but like many of you here, I have always been struck by the desire to be perceived as "normal."
I grew up in Ohio and lived in the same town for 12 years, so it wasn't until I went away to college that I realized that people could tell I was different just by watching me walk. That realization was actually somewhat liberating, since I no longer felt like I had to hide or downplay the things that were difficult for me. Naturally, I try to do as much as I can without help, but I don't feel like it's an imperative anymore.
The thing that tormented me the most is the persistent American notion that you can be anything you want to be as long as you try hard enough. It sounds great when you're a little kid, but it has one troublesome implication: that if you want something really bad and you haven't achieved it, then you must not be trying hard enough
I finally realize that I need to find a set of accomplishments that I can achieve and am comfortable with. Personally, I always wanted to be an athlete (really really bad) so that mostly comes in the form of finding physical activities (some combination of swimming, lifting, and running) that I can participate in and feel happy about, as well as accepting that I will only ever be as good as I can be. I'd really like to train up to a 5k someday, but that has proven difficult so far.
Other than that, I'm a PhD student in computer science at Notre Dame. In the next couple years, I'd hope to get my degree, a cool job, a cool relationship, and a cool life. Here's hopin.