Brittani’s Story

In our own words:

High School Dating Scene

By Brittani, an 18-year old with Kniest.

I am 18 and a sophomore in college and know all too well the fun of dating with a disability. I did go to Prom though in high school twice, I went with guy friends. It was very informal we had a nice time both times; I got to wear a great dress, end of story. In general though, dating does not have to be a BIG deal, lots of people including both my parents did not date seriously till late college or after college (but then you know us crazy Southern Baptists). Right now and in upper high school, I enjoy going out socially with groups of people both guys and girls and just having a good time.

First bit of advice get involved in whatever interests you and stop watching the days/years fly by without a date (Don’t be desperate). Just enjoy life! There are plenty of opportunities to be social that don’t involve running, or climbing walls. If you are meant to get married, you will likely meet them when you least expect it. The more you just live life and meet people, the less people are going to care about your shortness, limp, flat nose, etc. Oh and be honest with people when they ask about the shortness, limp, flat nose, etc even if they are kids tell them, they are curious, it’s human nature. And besides, I find once they know they know they are much more comfortable with you.

Second, be willing to speak up for yourself, let your friends know when you can’t do something (don’t be whiny just be honest). Once they know, get them to help you come up with a way that you can participate. For example, in youth group I never was able to play certain games, but after a year or so my youth minister and the other youth were so used to me and me adapting the games I didn’t even have to say a word. They found away that I could play or made sure I helped lead or something without skipping a bit or making a scene. You will have a lot more fun when you can actually PARTICPATE, and there will be less awkward moments, and the less awkwardness, the more likely people are to accept you (thus if dating is the goal then your probability improves).

Third, don’t be afraid of yourself. This is hard for all teenagers, but I think it is even harder for disabled ones. You can’t change the way you were born, try to accept it and live life anyway. Just be yourself, laugh at yourself, don’t try to be what you are not because I grantee you are not good at it. Now I know this is SOO easier said than done, but just keep it in mind.

Something that has been invaluable over the last few years is my “green machine”, which is my sport chair. The nice thing about the particular model I have is that it weighs only 12 pounds (I can lift it) and it’s the most compact model made by Quickie (“Quickie Revolution” is the model) and its fits in every trunk I ever tried to stuff it in. Thus I have participated in every activity known to teenage life even ones that involved long distance walking or running. I never stayed home, which has helped tremendously because it truly has helped my peers both at my university and in high school see me as just one of the gang (once again dating probability increases). I know that most people including me when I first got the GM, feel that wheelchairs and scooters will just make them stand out more awkwardly than before and I don’t deny the stares increase. But I personally would rather go hiking, to amusement parks, camp, road trips, etc than stay home because my joints hurt or I know I can’t walk the distance required. You might notice I was never a homebody.

Lastly, let me once again repeat that HS does not have to be ALL about dating, in fact, I think you will be glad it isn’t. I dated one guy for six months in High School (I moved a 1000 miles away, so we decided against a long distance relationship) but he was guy I had known for FOUR years when I dated him. He was my dear friend before he was anything more. I am still friends with him four years later. Just concentrate on being and enjoying good friends with your peers, and take from there.

I come from a family of three daughters, I am the oldest. Then there is my sister Elizabeth and my youngest sister Kim. Kim is tan, blue eyed, blond haired gorgeous cheerleader, artist who at the mere age of 12 has had more guys ask her out than Elizabeth and I combined. AND THERE IS NOTHING wrong with ELIZABETH!!! But Elizabeth and I are not too worried, we have good friends both guys and girls and besides teasing Kimmy is so much fun! Our time will come and we have accepted there is more to life than BOYS!!!

Oh and from someone who is out of high school (Praise God!), college, and young adulthood is SOOOO much better than HS. It’s still not a perfect world, but people over the age of 17 are less confused if you know what I mean. Guys do eventually grow up, well at least some do!! I am the older sister to two teenage girls, and was a camp counselor to 13 year old for the last 6 weeks this is my soapbox. Thank you for reading.

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