A life’s second chance is a purpose worthy of fulfilling. Many of us see persons with disabilities (PWDs) as someone fragile – pitiful in a way with how unfortunate they seem, but there’s more than meets the eye. Whether one’s disability is acquired through an accident, illness, inborn heredity or genetics, these are only what we see because, just like how beauty is skin deep, I believe that PWDs have this distinct coping mechanism of resiliency together with having their own stories engraved in each and every single part of their being. I also have a story to tell for I am like them too.
It was the 12th of December in 2014 when it all happened – a 15-year-old teenager was on her way home together with her friends. Right before we crossed a block, I looked to my left and saw this cement mixer truck far down the road from where we were standing. Just as I was about to cross the street, my friend yelled and that’s when it hit me. My right leg was sideswiped by the truck and everything else followed: the operations, the blood transfusions, the x-rays, the painkillers, the skin graft, the haunting, the re-occurring memories and post-traumatic flashbacks, the denial of losing half my leg, the people visiting and talking about what happened to me, the faiths being tested, the continuous anxiety, the grief over losing a leg, the frustration, the questioning, and the emotional breakdowns.
It’s devastating to know that in a split second, your life could turn a full 360. I clearly remember how everyone was always asking me how I felt and while I replied with a smile, it was nothing like how I really felt. I was anxious, I kept overthinking, “What will happen to me?” Could I still walk or live a normal life, pursue my studies or am I capable enough to win this battle? It was painful and difficult to hide your emotions. Truth is, people can see right through you and soon I realized that being vulnerable isn’t a bad thing. Being vulnerable does not mean that you are weak, but rather, it means that you’re strong enough to let others know that you’re hurting.
There will be times when we’ll feel discouraged, burdened, and hopeless but what matters most are the people who are willing to carry the weight together with me and always made me feel secure. These people are fighting with me and so I should do everything in my will to fight, too. Where people see us differently, help comes in many ways – sometimes as a blessing in disguise. However much we are lacking, we are only ‘differently abled’. We must not forget that it is in our ‘abilities’ that we are capable of exceeding beyond our limits. It’s okay to be in pain, to be vulnerable, to break down, to get tired, and most of all, it’s okay to still hurt after years because everyone has their own way of coping. Moving on after a tragic experience shouldn’t be hurried for it is a wonderful journey and we must keep this with us as a constant reminder of how far we’ve come. Always remember why you kept fighting. These reminders could bring countless more reasons that would serve as an inspiration and daily motivation to keep going, to keep trying, to keep excelling and above all, to keep hoping and believing that YOU CAN and YOU WILL.
After everything that happened, I thought I would never be able to live a normal life again. People often see limitations without even trying to view its endless possibilities. There are times when we think of our limitations as the endpoint and not as a way to push ourselves even more, to do better, and to try to discover the extent of our potential. Sometimes we think of our limits like a dead end on a one-way street but in reality, our limits are only just the beginning.
If I define strength, it could be a number of different things but when I look back and retrace my steps, reliving the past and being able to go through all of it is what makes me believe that I’m strong. Strength isn't the result of what you've become because to me, strength is facing those struggles, going through the process, withstanding maximum pressure and stress while bracing yourself to expect the worst yet hope for the best. This, to me, is courage and managing to overcome it while being able to smile after all that's happened is just the prize.
Just like the trendy abbreviations that we have, I define “LIMITLESS” with L-ife changing and I-mmeasurable M-iracles, causes I-mpacts and Teaches us to L-ove, E-mpower, S-trengthen, and S-urpass the different struggles and obstacles that we face in our lives because through being limitless, we are challenged through life-changing situations as we experience immeasurable miracles that cause impacts in our lives that’s engraved within our souls that teaches us to love ourselves and see our self-worth, empower those who feel lost, strengthen those who feel weak, and believe that they too will surpass all of these through the divine intervention of our Lord together with the presence of our loved ones and in the gift of life. Through this, I’ve realized my purpose and that is to inspire people not only from my story but hopefully from their stories as well.
It still amazes me how this certain phenomenon now defines who and what I am today and I’m more than proud of what I’ve become because of it. Through these experiences I found the meaning of why we are given second chances because it’s our chance to renew ourselves, to gain more lessons, to make everything worthwhile, to grow beautifully, to showcase our potentials, and most importantly, we are given second chances because we still have a lot to improve and because we still have a purpose in this world and our mission is not yet over. We still have a purpose and this is mine – to make people see through my eyes that there’s no battle we can’t fight, that being an amputee is not something that makes them less of a person for they are always whole, never incomplete. Being an amputee at the age of 15, I felt like a baby trying to learn how to walk again, little by little and step by step. It’s through that process of starting over where I developed myself and saw how every little thing mattered that it really takes a lot of pressure to create a diamond.
Being disabled does not entirely mean having the lower hand – being unfortunate, pitiful, underprivileged and the like – for this ‘limitation’ that we have may be used into a more positive yet meaningful outcome and as a motivation in proving to others that we are more than our restrictions, we are more than what we do not have, and most of all, we are far more capable than what other people label us. In the past 3 years after my accident happened, I have well proven that true excellence is not measured by one’s own mobility; rather, it is measured by one’s skills and talents. This is why I have such self-worth because despite my disability and lack of mobility, my skills and talents together with my personality and who I am as a person, will always remain with me – parts of me that’s not restricted nor bounded by these limitations. Because for me, it’s not true that other people may impose our limitations, it is us who create our own. And we’ll never truly realize being limitless unless we acknowledge our own resiliency.
I want everyone to keep in mind that there’s always a room for improvement. Life does not stop once we meet our greatest downfalls and that there’s nothing wrong if we keep on trying for we are bigger and brighter than our problems. There are no mountains we can’t climb nor seas we can’t cross for we are capable, we are abled, and for we are LIMITLESS.