I was born healthy with legs that I could run and jump with to where I wanted to go. I was free and cheerful. I usually walked home with my friends when I finished school. The journey coming home from school in my elementary years was filled with laughter of carefree schoolboys. I didn’t know that these moments were the last time my feet touched the ground….
When I was 8 years old, an accident with a lawn mower happened to me. Since then, I no longer have my right leg. At that time, I was too young to fully understand what I lost. I got a prosthetic on that summer, therefore I can still walk. I just won’t be able to run and jump and walk as fast as I used to. At the age of 8, it didn’t hurt my feeling much because of this loss.
Everything was just fine until I was in middle school. Every summer came, I grew taller and I would have a new leg replaced. I was looking forward to the new look of my right leg ^^! However, there were friends who considered my prosthetic leg as a joke to tease. Growing up, I began to feel the “pain”.
I cherished my prosthetics so much, but the bad friends around me didn’t. Even though I tried hard to cover my prosthetics with leather to look like the others. I wore long pants, high socks, walked like people with 2 legs but there were people who deliberately didn’t notice it. My effort then constantly “reminded” me of this loss. I wasn’t strong enough not to be bothered by everyone’s gazes and gossip about me. I did not raise my hands in classes, did not appear in front of the crowd, I minimized times when everyone could see me. I was under lots of stress, had low self-esteem and wanted to escape.
My version in those years has grown little by little each year. I’m a little stronger but still not strong enough. I think I’ve been frustrated and used to getting the attention and gossip from everyone. After finishing high school, I passed the university entrance exam and went to Saigon to study. This can be considered as a turning point in my life, that is when I decided to remove the leather leg cover and wear shorts to be more comfortable in moving. I thought I could be more confident and active, but I once again fell into negative emotions because of everyone’s gossip. This time, I even got depressed and had to go for psychological treatment.
I had to drop out of school twice and then decided to go back to school. I felt that I couldn’t integrate in this environment but still didn’t have the determination to quit school. Because if I don’t go to university, I don’t know what to do next.
Until I met an acquaintance who had studied at the Will to Live Center, I found out about the Center that evening. The next morning I decided to drop out of College and apply to study at the Center. I was also a bit surprised because my family supported me with this choice and then, I became a student at the Will to Live Center like that ^^!
Going to Hanoi, studying at the Will to Live Center was the second time I left home. But this time, I do not feel as lost as before. Studying here, I met many people with disabilities with many different conditions. My first thought when I was exposed to them was “My disability is really nothing compared to the disadvantages and losses that my friends here face”. For the first time I felt lucky because at least I can still walk by myself …
The longer I study here, the more I realize how extraordinary the efforts of people with disabilities are. Everyone has periods of rejection, sadness and even despair in this life, and each person has different ways to overcome it. I wished I had met my friends here earlier, maybe the time I had to deal with my loss wasn’t that hard.
You know, although I don’t dare to say that I can be confident with my fake legs, I loved it a lot more than before. I cherish every step. I know that my old self having low self-esteem many years ago didn’t help me at all, it just made me weaker and more tired.
Hmmm… What is my biggest dream right now? It definitely is graduating from Will to Live Center and going to work, then making a lot of money ^^! I really want to buy myself some new prosthetic legs, running legs, and swimming legs. New technologies for people with disabilities like me have been developed rapidly and I have no reason not to make up for this loss of mine. I can completely run and dance, living just like people with 2 legs. I really look forward to that moment.
How about to send a message to myself? I just need my old self to never appear again. Just like that ^^!
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