Photo Courtesy of Lamia Gamil

Lessons learned as a wheelchair user


I grew up in a household where I was reminded daily: “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” 

At times, life throws at you challenges and you don’t have any other option but to adapt and find a way to overcome those hardships. Through hardships, you learn how to survive, how to stay strong, how to be patient and how to find ways to have resilience and faith.

Being a wheelchair user is not an easy challenge. It creates troubling obstacles that can lead to a lack of self-confidence, anxiety and social behavioral disorders which can take full control of one’s life and end it before it begins. However, it does not mean that you can’t live a normal life.  In fact, you can accomplish your dreams, pursue your happiness, find your life partner and live a healthy life just like any other! 

Here are valuable lessons I learned from being a full-time wheelchair user for 18 years of my life. 

1. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Life will inevitably knock you down, leaving you feeling helpless. In Middle Eastern culture, we have a famous saying: “for every effort exerted there is a reward.” Every hardship is not an arbitrary obstacle. On the contrary, these challenges ignite inspiration, hope and energy within you.

My challenge didn’t break me, rather it made me dig deep to discover the little writer I had in me all along. 

Here I am, as a writer studying at Mason with an aim to become a lawyer and surrounded with awesome friends. I discovered that physical challenges can not  paralyze you but your mindset can.

2. Never dim the fire within you

Do you have a dream? Go fetch it! 

Never doubt your capabilities and don’t be scared to let go of the restrictions you set for yourself. You will never know the worth and meaning of your life unless you live it and experience it to the fullest. We did not come to this world to watch our lives pass by us like some movie. We are here with whatever abilities we are blessed with to tell a story and leave a mark for others to see and admire.

3. Embrace your uniqueness

The moment you start embracing your uniqueness is when you set yourself to grow and flourish. Having any form of physical, mental or emotional challenge does not make you less capable than any other person. 

If you want to find a way to do something and have the will to do it, nothing can stop you. You might do it differently but you will always find your way to cross the finish line like any other runner. You can be an inspiration to many people only if you learn to love yourself and unleash it from the imaginary prison of your own fears and insecurities.

4. Live life with a purpose

We create meaning in our journeys. We all have roles that impact people around us and are impacted by others. Purpose is the light that guides you in times of darkness. It’s a surge of energy that urges you to fight for your dreams.

Being in a wheelchair never took away from my role. Passing on knowledge, helping someone or making others smile is the purpose I live for. Once you overcome fear and doubt, know your worth and value every breath you take, you discover a purpose that makes you feel alive.