As an individual with a disability, people often ask me “how did you become successful living with a disability?” Without any hesitation my response is always the same “the power of words.” When I was in my late 20’s my mentor said something to me that changed the way I viewed life. He said to me “you can be anything you want to be.” Those words felt so heavy and it’s like all of a sudden the sky got bluer and the grass was greener!

I can’t honestly say that was the first time I had heard those specific words but it was definitely the first time I believed it and it had that effect on me. From that point on I was able to develop positive self-esteem and essentially find who I am as it pertains to my personal gifts. That positive self-esteem grew into confidence and suddenly I was no longer afraid to reach for my goals. I think about all of the times in my childhood when I had low self-esteem and unsure of myself. If I had someone to repeatedly tell me that I can do anything or be anything then maybe my life would have turned out different. Instead of not finding out my passion or what I wanted to do at age 31, maybe I would have discovered it at age 21.

As a Special Education teacher I routinely told my parents to always tell their kids that they are somebody. It may sound cliché but the power of words can change any students’ life especially those with disabilities. Children with disabilities typically go through life with everyone having low expectations for them and nobody to challenge them or tell them that they can do better. Please whenever you see a child with a disability tell them “you can be anything you want to be.”