When I think of the word independence, I think of it in so many different ways. I think of India celebrating independence from Pakistan, I think of children who achieve independence as they learn to do things on their own. When I think of independence for a person with a disability, many words come to mind: goal, patience, frustration, success, failure, challenging.

When I was younger growing up I know that in school it was very hard for me to be independent. I depended a lot on my teachers for social interaction and also it was very frustrating to have to be dependent on others to help complete school assignments, as I watched others complete theirs with ease and get the high marks that I so badly wanted. I also remember through university how dependent I was on my own friends, for moral support. How was I going to define my own independence as an adult, sure I was  independent in other ways . I had experienced living independently when I went to university and college it taught me some skills but something was still missing.  The thought of me moving out was not going to come so quickly for many reasons so I had to settle for staying at home until I was ready.

Almost two years ago I knew that some step had to happen in order for my independence to grow. Not that I don’t love my family but how could I fully be independent if I was still living at home. I started the process of apartment hunting on my own but one day I got to the point where it just became too overwhelming and I asked my mom to help, it didn’t take long to narrow down a place, and with a couple of visits to the apartment and sitting at the Starbucks walking distance I knew I had found my home. After almost 2 years of being on my own I can say that I really love living on my own. With each step comes being faced with challenges that allow you to grow, I have had to learn to be ready to pay every month  (saving money never my strong suit), I have had to learn how to clean (organization again not my strong suit and one thing I was not used to is washing dishes by hand), cooking for myself,  the fact that I’m doing these things and that I m happy just shows that where there’s a will there’s a way.  I love that I get to make decisions for myself and also I get to do what I want when I want.

No matter what independence looks like for you, keep smiling and shining and know that its okay to ask for help.