I first started using social media at the age of 10 years old, but my parents mostly monitored my mySpace account. Shortly after having an account on MySpace, Facebook came along and I decided to create an account.
Like most teenage girls when Facebook became popular, I was on my account 24/7, but I was very cautious about the pictures that I posted.
I was cautious about it because I wasn’t proud of the person I was at the time. I didn’t feel as if I was marvelous looking because of the one thing that makes me different: my wheelchair. I would often crop out the part of the picture that would show I was in a wheelchair. I would secretly have an intense dislike for the pictures that my family would take that would show my chair but I never expressed it to them. It was all secret that I kept within myself. The truth was, I had to learn how to accept my disability. It took me until I was almost 18 years old to finally accept my disability for what it was and the fact that it is a part of me.
One of my favorite social media sites to go on was called N-.com. You were able to hide who you really were through the avatars you created and my avatar looked nothing like me at all. She was tall with skinny type body and had golden brown curly hair with light skin. Everything I wasn’t.
When I would meet new online friends and they wanted to video chat I would always Skype them from the bed. After a while, some of them started asking me, “Why are you always in bed?”
I would become extremely nervous and wouldn’t know what to say. I would come up with some excuse like, “Oh, I’m just a little tired today” or “I’m just feeling lazy today.” Every time I would lie I would feel a sense 0f guilt because here were these people telling me everything about there lives, being open and honest, but yet I was hiding a big part of my life.
I felt like I was a BIG FAT LIAR and I hated it. I knew that one day I would have to tell my online friends that I was in a wheelchair because of my condition. I would have to admit that I was embarrassed about it. One day I finally got the confidence to tell one of my good guy friends about my condition and the fact I was wheelchair since I felt comfortable with him. I was telling myself it was time that to show my online friends the real me. I Skyped him in my wheelchair and when he saw me he went. “You’re in a wheelchair.” I said nervously yes I am and he simply replied, “That’s cool – you should have told me sooner.”
I felt so relieved and simultaneously I felt silly for hiding the real me for so long. In the end, what I learned from the experience is that you are beautiful just the way you are and there’s nothing wrong with being different. Now I am proud to say that every time I post a picture of myself in my wheelchair I think and say, “Yeah, that’s me and I’m proud of it.” The main lesson I learned from this experience is that you should be proud of the person you are and you should not try to be something you’re not. Once people get to know you your looks won’t matter – it is the heart that you carry on the inside that counts.