With the news of Stephen Hawking's death this past week, many people have sent their well wishes for him as he passes peacefully into a life with no more suffering, hopefully discovering the secrets of the universe.
However, even people who have meant the best have still spoken insensitively about Dr. Hawking's disabilities and how, by passing into death, he is now free of the physical constraints that have held him back in life.
Being a transfer from UC Berkeley has been a huge game changer for me, mainly because I hastily made a decision to attend without first checking how well I am adjusted to the school. Ultimately, I fell into deep depression, leading to my decision of taking a year off from Berkeley.
It was a blessing in disguise that led me to Santa Clara, where I felt right at home. My point here is everyone has different needs. As a college student with cerebral palsy, my needs are not just physical, they're emotional, and mental as well.
Everyone is different. Cerebral palsy, ALS, and many other disabilities do not define us and our abilities to thrive and survive in life. We yearn to be understood, just like everyone else. That should be a common goal-- it is striving towards kindness, acceptance, and compassion.
Personally, I don’t see my disability as an excuse to be an inspiration to other people because it’s just part of who I am.
Although I find that hard to accept, (it took me a long time to get over) I am still glad that I am able to do most things.
I see it as a unique gift that helps me see the world a bit differently. it makes me appreciate what I don’t have and at the same time provides me with a story of my own.
I believe that Hawking is impactful because even though doctors gave him a prognosis of two years to live. He surpassed that period and contributed to the space and science fields. Not many with ALS like him are able to survive that long. I’d say, maybe it’s the mindset. His survival is a miracle and I am incredibly inspired by his life.
He was not defined by his disability and neither am I. I think Hawking would feel the same way.