Realizing my Fate
By Kevin McShan
Life is full of unexpected curve balls, which arise at the most inopportune of times. However, I’ve been confronting challenges and unexpected curve balls all my life.
Dating back to infancy when I first arrived, freshly minted out of my mother’s womb, and ready to explore the world and everything it had to offer, I’ve always been the last line of defence, counted out and left for dead.
Meeting challenges and exceeding expectations wasn’t always a walk in the park. There were chinks in the armour and bumps along the road. To say my life hasn’t always been a bed of roses wouldn’t in the slightest be the most astounding of declarations this century. During my childhood I constantly rode an emotional rollercoaster, wondering why I was so profoundly different from everyone else who surrounded me on a daily basis. I would frequently isolate myself in a room, distant from any human contact or interruption to wallow in my personally erected pool of self pity and despair.
As a child, I would often appear timid and frightened to communicate my thoughts or emotions, always remaining cognizant of the outsider view of my life and their predetermined opinions of my future. I couldn’t shake the vivid images of the heckling laughs, the damming images of the peculiar glances and the cruel insensitive remarks which individuals would whisper in the ears of the closest observer. The remarks which everyone thought they had so cleverly crafted to disguise them from my line of vision.
Not realizing every last word was engraved in my mind, bringing me to tears.
I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to have a reason to shout, enough is enough! What did I ever do to deserve such an unpredictable and unstable journey the one we call life? I wasn’t prepared to accept who I was, I thought of ending my existence just to make the world seem simpler and less consuming for those who endured my bouts of self-deprecating despair.
For my parents my emotional status had almost certainly become unbearable. They attempted to bestow every last positive cliché possible in an attempt to help me accept my fate. In their eyes I was simply just another child full of dreams and aspirations. In my own eyes I was an outcast, not sure of my calling in life or the purpose of my existence.
It wasn’t until recently, my senior year in high school to be precise, that I fully embraced who I was and what I stood for. Building a sense of confidence and conviction I never thought could ever be attainable during my adolescence; I came out of my shell, sprinted to the top of the mountain and fully accepted who I was. I arrived at a place of happiness which allowed me to breed supreme confidence and instilling the mantra in my head just because I’m different doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
Growing into the man I am today, compared to the boy I was back in my adolescence, took time and commitment to not concern myself with the opinion of the outsider, but rather what I wanted out of life. For the majority of my early years I was actively searching for the answer I had been grasping at straws to obtain.
I was my own individual, I had gifts to give, lessons to teach and knowledge to lend to a world of people who had regularly disregarded every opinion accept their own, when it came to associating with those who live life through a different lens than the rest of society.
I was finally ready to grow and communicate fully with a world which I felt was apprehensive in accepting the fact that in the world times had changed and everyone was on an equal playing field. I was a member of society; I had an opinion which counted for something. I have often been admired for my undeniable display of courage and personal determination to succeed. In my later years, I have often been referred to as a role model, as a shining example of how to live your life in the most challenging of times. My unyielding desire to succeed has often been appreciated by my closest adversaries and friends.
Sometimes life deals you a deck of cards where you’re not always going to have the upper hand. Isak Dinesen, a famed Danish writer once said the following about the challenges we encounter in life. It’s a motto I attempt to emulate every day, every minute and every second of my life, especially in the darkest of times.
“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” Isak Dinesen.
My name is Kevin McShan and I have cerebral palsy and embrace the challenges and rewards of being different and unique. Why wallow in self pity when I have so much to give? Life is too short to wonder what if, why me or worry about what others think. Live in the moment and accept your fate. After all, the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. The whole moral of this tale can be captured in the immortal words of Gandhi who once said:
“Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
It’s a lesson we should all take a few minutes to learn, wouldn't you agree?