What Down Syndrome is Really Like

What Down Syndrome Is Really Like

Everything you think you know about down syndrome is about to change.

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Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that affects people on a continuum, ranging from severe to mild. Meaning that not every individual with down syndrome is going to be the same. What I think is interesting is that we lump them all together, and don't look at them as an individual.

In today's society, people like to look at kids or others with down syndrome and label them as weird or different. There is a stigma surrounding the down syndrome community. They think that these individuals have a harder life or don't have a good quality of life. It's like they almost feel sorry for the individuals with down syndrome. After being involved with individuals with down syndrome ever since my cousin was born, I can assure you everything you think that you know is about to change.

I have learned many things from my cousin that I probably would have never been exposed to if it was not for him coming into all of my family's lives.

Something that always amazes me is his not only his ability but his capability to love. Ever since he was born, my life has been filled with nothing but laughs and love. It is not always sunshine and rainbows, there are a fair share of tough days. But he always brightens my darkest days. He taught me to love everyone you come by, no matter your differences.

When I was in high school I ran an event that involved kids with down syndrome cheering on the sidelines during that game and I do not think felt so much love and happiness in one place all at one time.

But every time I see my cousin I am greeted to him running into my arms (sometimes in tears), and always the biggest hug. And then I always have an invitation to sleep over. He is someone who loves to cheer on the football team and makes sure that no dog ever goes hungry since he makes sure they always have food. This kid loves to dance and sing. I cannot leave out, he loves to host family feud alongside Steve Harvey.

Some people might say that caring for individuals with down syndrome is an inconvenience or a burden, but, it is everything but that. You learn to live your life differently and with so much more happiness and laughter than you did before. I am forever and eternally grateful that he came into my life.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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You Don't Have To See Your Friends Every Day

We all have lives that we're trying to balance.

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For as long as I can remember, whenever I would have no plans and go on Snapchat to see all my friends having fun without me, I would get FOMO. I'd get really sad and think that they didn't care about me because they didn't invite me. It would get me in such a bad mood that it would ruin any chance of going out with someone else who wanted to hang out.

I don't know if it was just my anxiety of people hating me or if it was a fear of missing out (FOMO). Even recently, it has gotten me down. However, over the past month or so, I finally realized something: you don't have to hang out every day to still consider each other friends.

Everyone has a life that they're trying to balance, especially after high school. People work (maybe even more than one job) and go to school. Some have to take care of family members or do things for their family. Some people are focusing on themselves. Some have relationships to maintain. Whatever it is, we all have lives that we're trying to balance.

We all want to have fun, but school, work, and our families are the priorities.

Even if they're out hanging with other people, it doesn't mean that they don't want to hang out with you. Free time is served on a "first come, first serve" basis. It's hard to balance hanging out with multiple people.

I also learned that it doesn't matter the number of friends you have. What truly matters is the quality. Ask yourself, "Who's there for me when I really need someone?" The people who are there for you when you really need someone to talk to are your TRUE friends.

It's not easy to be there for someone and make them feel better. If they offer to listen or give advice, they care!

I know that it may feel like you have no friends sometimes, but that's not true. Life after high school is hard at times. You're an adult. You have to do adult things and take care of yourself first.

You have to realize that everyone has a busy schedule and not all your friends' schedules will align with yours, but that's okay! You don't need to hang out with friends every day to consider them your friends. What truly matters is if they are there for you when you need them.

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