Building upon the brief introduction on my About page, I want to describe why I am embarking upon this Second Act. The Second Act itself is putting myself out there to share observations and stories of dealing with adversity and advocating for those who may not have their own voice. While I tend to go through my daily life without feeling the need to explain myself or my background, it was brought to my attention that for the world in general I absolutely need to explain who I am, where I’ve come from, and what I’m doing here.
I was born in the early 1980’s to a teenage mother. These were the days before the comprehensive prenatal care and regular ultrasounds. When I was finally born (five days late, my mom will remind everyone), it was quite a surprise to everyone that I had short arms and was missing fingers and had no thumbs. I have a form of arthrogryposis; thankfully a rather mild form only affecting my shoulders, arms, and hands. During first year or two, I’ve heard that some doctors were very concerned that this very visible birth defect could be much worse than it seemed on the surface. The thought that I might not even be able to walk was brought up, and who knew if there would be any developmental issues. So besides being a young mother in a far from perfect marriage, Mom was also facing the reality of raising a potentially severely disabled son.
My mom and dad would split up early in my childhood due to many reasons I am sure I’ll never know (nor need to), among them being his alcoholism and extended time “away” from us. In fact, after they divorced I saw nothing of him from ages five to about 11. And at this point I haven’t seen him since my early 20’s… We may get into more about that later, but for now it’s enough to say that while I have had several father figures in my life, my biological father is not one of them.
My life could have very well been a statistic. A handicapped son to a single teenage mother with an absent alcoholic father. We hear of kids who face similar circumstances becoming ostracized from their family, getting into serious trouble with the law, or becoming a ward of the state. But something else happened to me.
Instead, I managed to graduate from one of the best school districts in the state, and went to a fantastic university and graduated with honor, getting TWO job offers before graduation. I worked at JPMorgan right out of college and set the trajectory for a successful career in the technology space. I live alone in my own home with property I maintain, drive a regular car, and other than reaching things on tall shelves, I am rather self-sufficient. My life without the earlier context is one that would seem to be of hardwork and privilege. There was certainly hard work, but the adversity I overcame to get here is what is special.
Granted, I didn’t do it alone… I have had so many great influences in my life contribute to who I became. Family, friends, teachers & professors, coworkers, and mentors all have contributed. There’s even a small group of now dear friends who are very responsible for this Second Act. Each holds an amazing and special place in my world and, along with anecdotes, observations, and stories I will be sharing here, you’ll likely learn more about some of the very special people in my life who have helped get me where I am today.
I am sharing these parts of my life to help others. You don’t need to have a physical disability to experience adversity in life. By sharing mine, I hope to help others, with and without disabilities, overcome their own adversity and celebrate the diversity in their lives.