Sunday, July 5, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid To Be Who You Are By Fabio Botarelli

Having a cognitive disability known as speech and language processing delay, I find it aggravating to comprehend verbal information. That same aggravation spills over to large social settings where the cacophony of many voices disallows me to follow a conversation accurately. If someone were to ask me “Hey Fabio you want to go to this big party” I would react as if the person were asking me to mow a 100 acre lawn because considering what I have, going to a big party is grueling chore. If you ask any person with a cognitive disability to be in a situation in where their disability will be exposed, most of them will avoid it altogether because as self-conscious human beings we want to make a strong impression.

On Wednesday night there was no refuge for me when I was asked to attend a mandatory party in honor of our supervisor Anthony, who was making his departure to California late tomorrow afternoon. But all I heard was “noise and lots of people,” and due to this trepidation, I ended up leaving my room two hours after the party started. At first I tried running to my destination but after thirty minutes of asking people directions I had to backtrack ten blocks to the nearest subway station. It was then that I received a call from one of the interns and discovered that my destination required me to take the red line to the Washington Zoo stop. After thirty minutes on the train the time was 10:45 and I was officially lost because I still couldn’t find the exact location. But instead of searching further I called my father telling him that as much as I wanted to be a good intern and do the right thing by going to my supervisor’s go away party, my fear of social alienation had gotten the better of me. Eventually I came to the decision that I shouldn’t let fear get in the way of my progress but by then the time was midnight and the trains had stopped running, so now I faced the possibility of running four miles just to get home. So I started running across the bridge but as soon as I crossed it I stumbled upon my destination and saw my supervisor and four other interns waving for a cab. Screaming my lungs out, I bumped into Anthony and gave him a French bottle of wine as a gift. Ironically, I was the one intern who missed the party, yet the only one who had the munificence of giving him a gift. Had I not let the fear of social ridicule get the better of me prior to my visit, I would have made that much more of an impression because at the end of the day the only thing that matters is that you are a good person and will be recognized for your abilities, not you disabilities.

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