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Ely Colmenares

Ely ColmenaresEver since I was little, I knew I was different because I was missing a part of me. However, that never stopped me from doing what I wanted to do.

Growing up, I had to adapt to life. My parents let me be independent. I taught myself how to tie my shoes, put my hair up, and even tried to teach myself how to ride a bike. My parents supported me through everything and made me believe in myself. When I went to school, I realized that not everyone was as kind. I would get made fun of and get called names. But I never told an adult.

As I got older, I developed insecurities because of all the negative things that I was led to believe about myself. I would wear hoodies in the summer because they were my security blanket. Then I realized that I was not that person and that I needed to respect myself and believe in myself. It took years to gain confidence and say to myself, “This is who I am, take it or leave it.”

I was fitted for my first prosthetic arm when I was 16. By then, though, I was already very independent. I went to occupational therapy to learn how to use my arm, but I never found it useful. It would just slow me down and I found it uncomfortable. I would wear it only for cosmetic purposes, which wasn’t very often. To this day I still don’t wear one. But I know that I can always change my mind.

Life is not always easy, but I found a way to embrace it. To learn from it. To believe that anything is possible. If I want to accomplish something now, I don’t let anything get in my way. I believe educating people around me helps them understand that we are just like them. We all have a purpose, and we are all born to stand out.