The determined student who can’t pass a class? Peers who are recognized only for their physical diffferences? My name is Cameron Gallucci and these were only two of the obstacles I faced for over 27 years. I cannot speak firsthand for non-Caucasians, as I have not experienced the same treatment under their circumstances, but as “minorities” we can all identify with each other at different levels of similarity.
The playing fields- both higher education and employment- remain far from fair, but they are evening out little by little. We live in a new millenium, interacting with different people on a daily basis. Ethnicity, culture, gender, class, and disabilities are separate obstacles in their own rites, but they all share a common thread: social minority status. Minorities face varying levels of emotional drain because of their unique roadblocks, but many of these thoughts and feelings stem from an emotional pool that is shared by all categorized individuals, no matter the label.
Before February 2008 I lived with epilepsy, uncontrolled, for all of my life. Multiple seizures a day, monthly grand mals, slurred speech, groggy posture, and forgotten thoughts aren’t foreign to me. By the age of 26 my family had lost count of the times I had been whisked to an emergency room. My inability to recall the past 24 hours had simply become an accepted routine integrated into my lifestyle.
After exhausting every medication on the market and unsuccessful surgeries I had become fairly immune to the word “cure”. Its definition simply didn’t apply to me. Though my immediate answer was “sure, why not?” I remained pretty calm, if not skeptical, when my neurologist suggested an experimental surgery at an out-of-state hospital. Customize my words with your own and you’ll see how these pieces might fit into your puzzle. Are these feelings of skepticism and repetitive motion familiar to you, too?
My chances were slim but I took on the risky brain surgery. Serious brain damage, a comatose state, and death being potential outcomes, many people couldn’t understand my open will when embracing the risks. They were unable to see how in my eyes, not proceeding with this surgery was a bigger risk to me, how throwing away a potential turnaround that could help me achieve my goals would do nothing but weigh my shoulders down.
As common as it may be, epilepsy is difficult to deal with because too many people don’t understand the dynamics. The setbacks and the side effects are commonly misunderstood, but more importantly, an individual’s potential remains hidden behind the seizures. Do you sometimes feel like you are just another name on an extensive list of “special” people- wondering if you are remembered only because of that “special” distinction?
There are times you feel overshadowed by your own blueprint, as if it is the predominant identity people associate with you- “Am I recognized for my accomplishments or is it my skin color, or maybe that limp in my walk, that receive more silent attention?” For me, there were times when life seemed like a repetitive cycle of whole-hearted attempts and incomplete tasks. But I did not give up, and in that sense I know I am not unique.
We have all persevered; the energy it takes to get through the day, the determination it takes to pick up the pieces, and the fueling desire to achieve is above and beyond. Such circumstances may seem miniscule to onlookers and merely common practice to other sufferers, but as a cured individual I can now see the strength it requires to cross these daily bridges.
My surgery has given me a great opportunity to complete tasks which were only half-finished. Being seizure-free has opened many new doors, but this isn’t the beginning of a new life and it’s definitely not the end of an old one: it’s the next chapter. It’s a constant reminder that no matter how excruciating, never give in to your obstacles. There are some elements we will never free ourselves from, and sometimes, maybe we don’t want to. Life is not an easy path, and the crossroads are rarely paved, but if you have the will you will find a way.
No one can ignore the discouraging thoughts, personal angst, or turbulent times, but among these hardships the one thing you cannot lose is faith. These hardships do not weaken you they make you stronger. The key is remembering that just because it was assigned to you at the beginning, a minority status is not what you are in the end.
Posted on March 30, 2012, in Physical Difference, Pysche, Stress and tagged achieve, disability, equality, ethnicity, faith, judgement, minority, motivation, perseverance, physical differences, race, struggle. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.