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  • Kate Walker

Why I Decided to Move Away for College

I just graduated high school and will be starting my freshman year of college in the fall. I am going to college almost six hours away from home, which is a super big commitment for me considering I have never spent more than a few nights away from home alone. I know that the first year of college is scary for literally everyone because it is most people's first time living on their own. However, my fear level is on entire different level because of my disability. I have to take my own physical limitations into account on top of my homesickness.


I always thought that I would be walking across the stage at graduation and going into freshman year just like everyone else. Even after my diagnosis, I always thought that I would be cured by the end of high school. I don't know why I thought this, no one told me a cure was coming that soon. Maybe I just didn't want to let go of the fantasy that I've had since I was little. Graduating always seemed so far away that I never thought that I would still be dealing with Friedreich's Ataxia. It is easy to rely on the fantasies that you had as a child instead of facing reality. Even now, there are things that will happen past college that I can't picture doing in a wheelchair because I never imagined them that way when I was little.


There are an endless amount of scenarios in college that I have thought of that absolutely terrify me. What happens if I fall in the bathroom and no one is home? How am I going to get bags of laundry upstairs to the laundry room? What if I can't transfer to my chair? How am I going to get on and off the floor to workout? How am I going to bring in bags of groceries from my car? These are all situations that I will very likely get into when I go to college. And if you know me, there is literally nothing I hate more than asking for help. I don't know why, but I feel the need to show off my independence even when it would be easier to accept help. I never want to be seen as weak or like it is impossible for me to do something.


So why I am I not going to college to closer to home? Oh come on, I know you were all thinking it. Well, there are multiple reasons. I'll first just write out some of the reasons that have nothing to do with my disability:

  1. The program at the college I am going to is phenomenal and I will have more opportunities in the future.

  2. I wanted to experience somewhere new and throw myself into an entirely different environment.

  3. I wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the world. I knew that if I stayed closer to home, I would fall back into my high school routine.

The reason that has everything to do with my disability:

  1. I have the abilities and the motivation to do this now. I may not in the future. We don't know.

Yes, there's only one reason. But I feel like that reason is the most convincing of them all. I don't know what the future is going to look like. There may be a cure or there may not be one; my progression could keep going or it could stop with the help of a medication. There is no way for me to know. What I do know now is that I can do this now and I want to do this. Yes, it is going to be scary. I'm going to end up stranded on the bathroom floor and have to figure out a way to get up. Those things I am scared of are going to happen. I might end up coming home in a year. Or this might end up being the best decision I have ever made. Either way, I know that I will regret it if I don't try it.


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