This article, written by spelling one letter at a time onto her mother's palm, is the exact message I was wanting to share today. We are all unique, but we are all so much the same. Can't we just give up the fake battle so many of us are fighting and be ourselves - find our authentic selves and then live there, without fear?
Life by the Numbers
By: JulieLynn Reardon (12 years old)
The world would be a better place if children saw children as they ought to be instead of what they think they should be. Some children spend all their time showing the world a face of everything society tells them they need to strive for - and it will never be enough. Too thin, too fat - not who they really are, which is unique.
Each one of us has a special gift given to them at birth and everyone forgets why we are really here. Through this crazy thing called growing up they grasp at all the shiny things they think will make them happy. But they are exactly the things that distract us from what is really important.
What is important is seeing what we all have in common. We all want to be loved and be useful. To make our lives connect with others and have everything make sense. Just being in the same room does not connect us. Just saying a word or looking into another's eyes does.
By connecting we can touch other people's hearts and everything can be better. I see their discomfort and their pity even though they try their best to hide it. I don't like those looks but I can understand why they do it. It is fear.
They have fear inside that I could in some way make them be more like me in their eyes. They see what they might end being - something that society says is a waste because our function cannot be measured by a bottom line or a dress size.
I am enough. I am not restricted by their numbers. I measure my life by beautiful sunsets. I see the hugs that connect me to the disconnected and the joy I feel when I am seen, actually truly seen, by another human being.
I love my life with all its imperfections, and even though I hate my disability, I love the freedom it allows me. I am a human being like everyone else. I have thoughts and feelings and I feel for every other human being who mistakes me for my disability.
I want to make them see the special needs person inside every one of us. Our special need to embrace what connects us beyond dress or color and everything on the surface that sets us apart. By seeing only what makes us different we buy into an easy excuse not to try to see the uniqueness that connects us.
I think that if we stopped making this mistake we would be more forgiving with each other. We all are part of the same family that lives on the same planet. No two people will completely agree on everything and that should be a good thing.
We grow through the challenges that make us who we are and we should never stop growing. That is why those numbers and bottom lines should not define us.
I can be anything I choose to be and I choose to be more than a number. I choose to be more than a blank stare. I choose to be everything that is possible for me even if I do it at a snail's pace. I will be me and if everyone chooses to be who they truly are then the numbers can't hurt us or make us less than the amazing and unique people we were meant to be.