Dear Me at 17,
I understand that life has not always been easy. You have had many struggles, and feelings of inadequacy. I know the future seems bleak, especially because you have those struggles and rely on people.
I will be honest: In the near future you are still going to have struggles; in fact, you will have many. You will have to face depression, anxiety, and, unbelievable as it may be, cancer.
Your fears of not being independent will not go away at the snap of the finger. You will have to fight through thyroid cancer and make it through college. But the good news is: You do.
You will go to a college that starts out right for you, but that you will outgrow quickly. It will be a good experience though, because you will learn how much you actually love academics. You will make some friends, even if they don’t all stick around.
You will push yourself to take a semester abroad. It will be tough, but by the end you will have had wonderful experiences with some really cool people. You also learn to drive and how to live on your own with some help from people teaching you, and your parents letting you be more independent.
Things that would seem like only a dream to you now and most likely never to happen, have. You found a career—you have a job using your brain to look at society and how it impacts people with disabilities and people who ask for help.
You still have a lot left to go on your journey, and there is more work to get yourself further into the so-called adult life. But you have also made great strides in ways that you thought could never happen. So keep going—the fight is hard, but it is worth it!
Jason Harris at 27
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.