Protesters at a disability rights rally. A 2014 survey conducted by the Americans with Disabilities Act Participation Action Research Consortium reported people with disabilities had a median income about $10,000 less than people without a disability. SINN FEIN/FLICKR VIA CC BY 2.0

It’s weird being a college student for seven years. You start to wonder if you’ll pull through this journey, and then you start wondering when?

When I graduate, I’ll likely be the first in my immediate family to hold a bachelor’s degree. My mother never went to college. My father had to drop out of Stony Brook back in the 80s because of his ulcerative colitis. My brother isn’t likely to get a degree past his associate’s from Suffolk since he’s looking to go into law enforcement.

I feel an immense amount of pressure knowing this. I’ve been studying journalism since my days at Suffolk in 2011. Though now that I’m at Stony Brook, I’m starting to learn about the little intricacies that makes journalism possible — things like covering events over the span of a few hours, meeting and interviewing people and calling sources for days on end. Things that at times can be physically draining.

I feel as though what I’m learning in the program doesn’t quite cater to my situation, and I’m left with a sense of unwavering ambivalence toward a career path in this field.

I can’t give up now, right? What would I even do? I feel so much pressure to do something to give my life meaning that I end up freaking out and don’t take action. What’s the point in living without purpose?

I believe we all have a purpose; but, some find it faster than others. I’m the kind of person that spends most of their life wondering what they’ll amount to and if it’ll have an impact in the end.

Despite questioning my profession because of my disability, I’ve tried using it as an advantage. I wrote a story about the Suffolk County Accessible Transportation bus program for those with disabilities, and the problems the program faces, feeling an enormous sense of pride after working on that piece for two weeks. My struggles make me feel like I have a duty to bring light to these issues, to report on the problems people in my community face.

I really enjoy journalism and believe it’s vastly important. But all the reported problems people face daily around the world tend to make me extremely depressed.

A few months ago I was talking with my brother and my dad about career professions. I told my brother how amazed I was at how he knows exactly what he wants to do and that I really admired that conviction. He’s known since he was 4 years old.

I’ve always felt this sense of having to do something marvelous in order to give my life meaning because it all goes back to fighting a losing battle within my mind about my disability.

It’s never going away.

I’m not even sure I knowhow much that bothers me.

When I was a kid, I just wanted to know what life without a disability was like. I still have dreams about performing physical feats that I can’t accomplish in real life.

There isn’t a profession that’ll guarantee that fulfilling lifestyle for me; but whatever I end up doing, I know it’ll give me a sense of freedom that I’ve yearned for my entire life. Because I’ll finally be in control.
Perhaps that’s what it means to be human.