Like many other parents, mine often told me that I could be anything I wanted to be in this world, and I could do anything I wanted to do. I think they really meant it, at first. My mother even told me that when a doctor once quipped, “Well, she’ll never be a ballerina” (my mother had expressed concerns about how much of a “normal” life I would have), she sternly told the medical professional, “If she wants to be, she will.”
I admire ballerinas for their strength, and I envy their graceful movements, but I had other goals. Leg braces be damned, I played soccer and softball with able-bodied kids. Later, I would spend 8 summers in the Adirondacks, navigating uneven terrain each day and taking part in activities like waterskiing and pottery (I’m still not sure which is more difficult). Then I went to a college outside of Boston, five hours from home, where the winters were harsh and the campus’s hill was steep – one might say it was a “Jumbo”-sized hill *Note: that joke is particularly corny, and only works if you know your collegiate mascots*. You see, after over a decade of being told that I could be or do anything I wanted, I believed it.