Nick Santonastasso: Staying Adaptive in a Handicap World

I’m not so good-looking, proper?

In 1996, I used to be born with Hanhart syndrome, a uncommon situation that leaves infants with undeveloped limbs or organs. Docs gave me a 30% likelihood to dwell as a result of I used to be the twelfth child in medical historical past to have Hanhart syndrome. Of these 12 infants, eight died as a result of their organs couldn’t assist them. I used to be fortunate. My organs have been 100% wholesome. Solely my limbs have been affected. As you possibly can see, I used to be born with no legs, one arm and one finger, and I’m completely rocking and rolling.

It wasn’t all the time that means. As a child, I hated my physique. I assumed it was the most important curse, probably the most disgusting factor that would occur to me. I used to be ashamed that I didn’t appear like everybody else. I couldn’t run round and play all of the sports activities, which I assumed meant I couldn’t play any sports activities. So, I hid. I stored myself small. Someday, my older brother, Mike, requested me why I didn’t attempt new issues. Why didn’t I check out wrestling like him, he requested.

I had an excuse. My proper limb was about 5 inches longer than it’s now. The bone developed quicker than the pores and skin. It was delicate, and if I landed bizarre on that limb, the bone may come by way of the pores and skin. I may have sat on that excuse and stayed within the snug, albeit depressing, place I had accepted as my everlasting residence. As an alternative, I selected to embrace a mindset that allowed me to dwell and develop. It was a pivotal second.

Docs amputated my proper limb, which allowed me to begin wrestling. A snowball impact adopted. I took up bodybuilding. I labored on confidence, mindset and self-worth. I put myself on the web when Vine was nonetheless a factor and located slightly web fandom there by dressing up as a zombie and scaring folks with Mike. It landed me an look on the favored TV present, The Strolling Useless. Now, I journey the world talking at occasions with the singular objective of serving to folks perceive that their limitations are sometimes a lot higher than the bodily ones they see in me. Folks won’t ever make greater than they assume they’re value. That’s why folks keep in draining jobs and relationships.

My journey wasn’t straightforward. Everyone knows the web could be a nasty place. However once you construct the inspiration of self-love and confidence, you possibly can select to see, learn or hear that nastiness with out absorbing it or giving it energy. In April 2020, Mike died from a heroin overdose, and it practically broke me. However you have got the emotional and psychological energy to heal from that depth of grief.

The way you do one factor is the way you do the whole lot. The way in which you present up in a single space of life will have an effect on the methods you present up in different areas. How usually are we proud of the methods we present as much as our jobs on Monday mornings? How usually are we proud of how we present up for our family members after an extended day? In 2018, my mother wrote a e-book, Born to Break the Boundaries: How We Raised an Adaptive Youngster in a Handicap World. She wrote concerning the methods she taught me to be self-sufficient, to fail ahead and to adapt with gratitude.

Right here’s the factor: I received a shot at life. A better energy beloved me sufficient to place me right here, and I’ve to benefit from this human expertise. Individuals who don’t know me would possibly see me coming down the road and really feel sorry for me. I don’t want—or need—that pity. I would like them to see themselves and look inward on the issues which are holding them again. As Eminem aptly says, we solely get one shot, and our mindset about that chance may be extra crippling than any syndrome.

Are you taking your shot? 

This text initially appeared within the November/December 2022 Subject of SUCCESS journal. Photographs courtesy of Nick Santonastasso

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