Ep 99: Refusing to Be Defined by a Disability, Ashley Longo
At 22 years of age, Ashley Longo just graduated Loyal University in Los Angeles and she's headed back there for Law school at the end of this Summer. She's accomplished this and many other things, including mentoring a young girl in San Diego who is newly paralyzed, interning in Senator Diane Feinstein's office, playing basketball, performing in school plays, getting her Driver's license the day she turned 16, body-surfing red flag waves and skiing among others, despite having been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. But being born with a spinal problem that is formally defined as a "bone abnormality" has done nothing to slow her down. As you'll hear, she doesn't think of her life as withstanding 10,000 "No"s. She just refuses to acknowledge the word "no" altogether.
"People may look at me and I might look a little different, but I don't even view myself as the girl in the wheelchair..." (3:05). Not seeing the physical challenge as "too big of a thing" because it's all she knew, (4:22). "I've kind of learned if you act like it's not a big deal, other people don't act like it's a big deal", (6:43). “I've had a lot of bigger obstacles that I've had to go through that I think, yeah, definitely has made me a lot stronger of a person...”, (9:38). "What was great is my parents never put me in a special school...", (10:13). How Ashley's family's decision not to baby her gave her confidence, (11:09). “No one wants to be around the victim, no one wants to be around someone that's feeling sorry for themselves all the time.", (13:37). "The way society views people with disabilities has been the biggest hurdle for me.", (14:54). Not wanting to be solely defined by a disability, (18:14). "You just have to go with the flow, you can't freak out and plan about that in the future...", (21:18). "I think surrounding myself with people that are able-bodied is what has made me who I am.", (24:13).
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