So, basically…. I’m a horrible excuse for a blogger. College has been kicking my ass y’all. Like, beating me to a mindless, sleepless (I’ll admit that the lack of sleep is my doing) pulp. In the last month or so, my sense of stress has gone off the scale and all I want to do as of late is watch weird documentaries (as well as the occasional MEAN GIRLS) on Netflix and dream about all the possibilities life can offer.

Recently, I have had the distinct pleasure of working on various projects having to do with disabilities (Ugh, there’s that word again), and I’ve done more speaking engagements on my college campus than anyone can count. One of those speaking engagements let me be a part of a panel of students that all have some sort of physical and/or psychological condition (I’m saying condition instead of disability because, to me, condition has a better connotation). We were speaking in front of at least 100 high school seniors and their parents. All four of us were asked the same two questions:

How is college different from high school?

How has ACCESS (a place at my community college where people with any type of condition can find all sorts of resources for themselves) helped you during your time at Moorpark? 

When answering these questions, I wanted my answer to be original  and unlike those of the other three panelists, but I also wanted to provide useful information to the audience. Whilst self-advocacy and self-reliance are both two of the biggest factors that change in college, my biggest difference was the attitude of others. Here was my response to question 1:

  1. I think the biggest difference for me in terms of that transition, was the attitudes of people. I don’t know about all of you, but I was tremendously bullied in high school, and while I eventually made peace with those four years, I still couldn’t quite shake those insecurities. When you have such a pronounced, visible condition, it’s kind of hard not to be singled out in a crowd. When I arrived at Moorpark, I realized that everyone here was looking at Miranda, the person, and not the chair. I’ve built some great friendships at this college and they are ones that I will have for a long time. Just remember that everyone here at Moorpark has a common goal and that is to move on to bigger and better things. You will no longer be singled out, but moreso, included in a community of people. Embrace everyone you meet with open arms and remember that your condition doesn’t define you.
2. ACCESS has helped me with copious amounts of things, but when my first semester at Moorpark commenced, I was nervous, scared, and confused. Switching to an environment in which you know not one person is extremely difficult and when you have to explain your disability to a whole new crop of people, it can be intimidating. ACCESS isn’t there to hold your hand, check your grades for you, or talk to your professors, but they do alleviate some of the little stresses that would otherwise be building up. This program helped me figure out why I wasn’t testing well (severe anxiety) and provided me with a comfortable, secluded environment to complete my exams. I will be working alongside program directors to create a “For students by students” manual for the ACCESS program in which students can find helpful tips and tricks about navigating a condition while in college. I am currently in my second to last semester here and am currently looking forward to applying to Yale, Columbia, Stanford, and UC Berkeley. A year ago, when my collegiate journey began, I never thought I could accomplish so much on my own since virtually everything had been done for me for a long time. But I’m here as a testament to what the ACCESS program is capable of bringing out in students: An eagerness to learn, a willingness to be a part of something, and a newfound sense of confidence in yourself and your abilities. 

The whole experience of being a part of this panel of students made me realize just how far I’ve come and what possibilities I have for my future. Despite me being a bit of a “Negative Nina” because I know for a fact I won’t be getting a 4.0, oddly enough, I’m okay with that. The bottom line is, I should be proud of myself and my accomplishments thus far. If you’re stuck in a state of negativity, stressed, or upset, remember who you are, where you’ve been, and how far you’ve come to get to where you are.

That’s all for now! Happy Monday!

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