As you can tell by the by-line, I’m Jacob Barrett. What you can’t tell from the bolded name above this column is that I have a physical condition that inhibits my ability to walk, known as Cerebral Palsy. Because of this, I face a somewhat unique set of challenges and, because of this, I feel I have a perspective on life and feel it’s part of my duty as a citizen of the world to share some of my experiences with you.

So this column is intended to drop some wisdom on its readers. My disability stems from birth difficulties and subsequent brain damage. Therefore, in simple terms, CP causes me to have an unstable walking gate, constantly contracting leg muscles, joint damage, muscle spasms, ect. I’m not going to lie to you. Living with Cerebral Palsy is hard. It’s a constant struggle and it took a long time to adapt to make the world a more livable place for me.

Years and years of physical therapy just to be able to use a walker to get around, surgeries that put me in a hospital bed for months and pain that kept me up at night. Fears about the future and what it holds for me creeping into my head along with having trouble making friends at school growing up. The list could go on, but I’ll spare you.

A lot of people’s first reaction when I talk to them about my condition is to put it on a pedestal. They’ll say something like “Wow, yeah I deal with (Insert ailment here). But it’s nothing compared to what you go through” or “I shouldn’t be complaining about my life to you, I mean, not with all you deal with.”

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Don’t say that. Neither of those two statements are true. The truth is, everyone deals with challenges. Mine are no greater than yours, or anyone else’s for that matter.

The only possible difference between my battle and some other people’s is that you can see mine with the naked eye. People can look at me and see that there’s something going on with me that is outside the realm of what people may perceive as normal. Often it’s what you can’t see that is what has the most impact on a person’s resolve.

Maybe someone is dealing with depression, anxiety or another non-visible medical condition. Maybe an individual went through some sort of trauma when they were young or got bullied as a child. Maybe they’re just trying to balance work and school. Maybe they can’t even afford to go to school. maybe they can barely afford to put food on the table.

I have no idea what it’s like having to struggle with most of those things. It’s probably terrifying, crippling even, but I can relate to the idea of adversity. At least, I try to.

Where the road splits is how an individual deals with that adversity. One road leads to success and reconciliation, while the other leads to destruction of whatever they have built for themselves. By letting whatever it is that’s inflicting a person control them, they’re missing out on the aspects of life that are truly amazing, no matter the struggle. It’s all about taking the good with the bad, the pretty with the ugly, and the treasures with the garbage, taking what you wish and learning from the rest.

I’ll be the first to admit that that’s easier said than done, but nobody said that this twisted game called life is an easy one.

Next time you have a conversation with me or anybody else, remember what I’ve said here and realize that life’s hardships aren’t measured by a score in some contest. They’re a fight which should be appreciated and fought together.

Now, take a deep breath and reflect for a second. As you walk down this metaphorical road, when you come to that fork, which way will you go? Are you going to take the road which leads to a dead end? Or are you going to take the one that takes you to the top of that hill you’ve been trying to climb your whole life?

I hope you choose the latter.

Jacob Barret can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !