Your Internal Strength Supersedes All
By Divine Favour Akin, Youth Engagement Reporter
By definition, power is the ability to do something or act in a way that creates an effect or change. In other words, I can do something and trigger a change.
Although this is a simple definition, it fails to capture the extent of greatness and human possibility. Power, in my book, comes from the ability to make the decisions that ultimately impact us, so we can define our realities through the choices we make, the steps, and the actions we take.
It seems so minuscule, yet it’s such a profound thing that it defines our entire state of living. Every day we make decisions that strengthen or hurt us, empower or limit us. And all of that is based on how we perceive. The realization that we are indeed in charge, capable of powerful things, that our disability does not strip us of our internal strength is empowerment.
There’s a quote by author Melissa Spino that says, “The only person you can control is yourself.” Yet we find ourselves in situations where we seem hopeless and powerless. As overwhelming as it may be, we still have our willpower. It’s a state of being solely dependent on our internal strength and mind. This capacity is so remarkable that it affects us and influences those around us.
It’s a state of understanding that, despite your external abilities, your internal strength supersedes: your grit, perseverance, determination, and boldness to dream.
Yet, as capable as we are, we limit ourselves through our perception/mind: fears, failures, and opinions to define what is possible and impossible for us. And, while there may be legitimate concerns, fear is not one of them.
Attending Youth Camp and the National Conference helped me understand how my perception had limited my understanding of what I was capable of. There were so many things I had considered impossible, a daydream, unrealistic. It took being surrounded by amazing people doing extraordinary things to realize how capable I was and how much my disability had tampered with my perception of possibility.
One day during camp, there was going to be a running clinic. I was encouraged to join. The clinic began with a Q&A session with guests such as Ezra Frech. We got to ask them about their careers, challenges, and successes.
It was inspiring to hear how they found ways to do what they love. They told us about the issues they encountered, how their disabilities tried to limit them, and how they ultimately overcame them.
After the Q&A session, we would engage in obstacle and agility courses. It all seemed interesting and exciting, but frankly it seemed intimidating, especially the obstacle course. I had seen the way athletes used each component. For instance, the rope ladders laid out on the floor. Typically, one would skip through it on their toes, but I could manage to use only the knee on my prostheses.
The first activity was for all the kids to race the guest speakers from one end of the hall to the other. They all took off, and they were fast, the kids especially. Some of them practically flew out of the door.
I was convinced I couldn’t do it. Still, I saw different people of different ages, amputations, and prosthetic devices, including my newfound friends. They all did it.
If they could do it, I could at least attempt it, right? After watching the first lap, I decided to try. I couldn’t run forward because of how much time it took to move my knee, so I side-shuffled. I almost stumbled, but I kept going. My friends cheered me on. It was fun and slightly challenging, but worth it.
One of the prosthetists asked if I was still interested in trying to run. I responded that I was still interested; nevertheless, I was nervous.
The organizers of the clinic got my mom’s consent and got me a running blade, which Mr. Cameron, one of the volunteers and representatives, so graciously lent. After the prosthetist fixed it on, I felt bouncy, lighter, and freer. I didn’t know how to feel. I had not been so close to running since my amputation.
Then, they said Ezra would teach me how to use it. We began with side shuffles, and I took off! I didn’t know I could move so fast. My body knew exactly what we needed to do, even though it was my first time using it. After multiple side shuffles to get me comfortable, he taught me how to move with the knee. I initially hesitated because I wasn’t sure if I could actually run.
Nevertheless, he seemed determined, and those around him were so encouraging I attempted it. He walked me through the basic movements, demonstrated them, and I repeated his motion. Gradually, he added actions and tips, and before I knew it I was running. My mom was even more excited than me. We ran and ran and ran from one side of the hall to the other.
I stumbled a few times and bumped into the signpost a little. Still, it was insignificant compared to the accomplishment of running for the first time. My heart was racing, and it wasn’t solely because I was exercising but because I was conquering my impossible. I couldn’t comprehend or convey my emotions. Occasionally, I tried to talk but couldn’t coordinate my words. The freedom that came from doing something I had not considered until then was overwhelming.