Recently I was at a meeting of "leaders" of different multicultural groups. At these meetings, we do some kind of exercise sharing who we are, which may (or may not) tie to a culture. So the topic this time was on what value we remember growing up that influences who we are today.
Disability has a culture, but many people like me did not grow up with a disability. And so, thinking others would be telling somewhat according to their "culture," I had to think. "Beth, would you like to go first?" No.
So I went last. I definitely was part of a culture growing up, but it was clueless of disability. I didn't think of disability much.
The "value" I remember is this. After my first year in cross-country, where as a beginning cross-country runner I did surprisingly pretty well, my coach had a meeting with me. "Beth, you need to set some goals." What? Goals? I run; I got faster; I can be faster still. "Beth, I think you should set a goal to run under xx time." What? That's over a full minute off my fastest time this year, the year I took almost 4 minutes off my time. Over another minute? Well, ok, I'll say yes, and then I'll actually train over the summer. But I didn't think I could actually make that goal.
My coach knew. I made the goal, easily. In fact, I took 45 additional seconds off and then we won State Cross Country. No one saw it coming. Which team won? What? How? I think my coach knew we could do that.
So the value I learned is to never think that what someone thinks is impossible, is actually impossible. This has led to people in my family saying, "Never tell Beth she can't do something, because it will just give her more incentive to do it."
There's a concept of "SMART" goals where the A stands for "Attainable." I don't like that. It's more fun for the goal to be just out of reach. And although I didn't have a disability back then, I think that being taught the "value" of aiming for the seemingly impossible has helped me through so much with MS.
A long, long time ago, I thought I might work 5 more years. That was many more than 5 years ago. I'm still working. I've set a new goal that, although very easy for others to do, will be that "impossible" for me.
It's a time thing. I wonder if my coach would be ok with this goal, or maybe he'd make it lower. It's impossible. But I'll go for it, thinking of the other time I never thought I would make, cutting that extra minute off. I'm going to surprise the MS beast with this. MS thinks it's impossible. I'm going to prove MS wrong.