Friday, October 21, 2011

For all of us misfits

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Last night my husband and I went to see this guy.

Picture courtesy of Paul Alexander

Kevin Connolly is 26 years old.
He has been to 31 countries and counting.
He loves to take pictures of people.
He has written one book so far.  They're in the process of making a movie based on his life.
Oh, did I mention he was born without legs?

Paul and I got to sit in on Kevin's lecture last night, and I have to say, I am so glad I was able to attend!  Kevin is the type of guy that could be your best friend 5 minutes after meeting you.  He's your typical college guy -- he gets nervous in large groups, notices pretty girls, loves sports, and most importantly, he laughs at himself.

Watching this young man talk about everything he has done in his life is amazing.  He grew up just like any other average kid in Helena, MT.  His favorite way to get around is by skateboard.  "Parts are cheaper to buy if they get broken," he says.  His parents put him in gymnastics and he has even skied in the X Games(I believe that's what they're called).  He attended college in Bozeman, and then decided to study abroad in Switzerland.  While traveling other countries he got the bright idea to start taking pictures of people's first reaction to a leg-less guy riding a skateboard.  At first they weren't the best quality, but he didn't care, he just enjoyed taking pictures of people.

Many people had enough courage to ask him the inevitable, "What happened?"

"Was it a shark attack?"
"Was it Thalidomide?"
"Are you an Iraqi veteran?"

He has spent most of his life answering the same, simple question, "I was just born without legs."

When one gentleman heard he was writing a book about his experiences he gruffly replied, "Good! People don't need to be so rude and stare!"  But Kevin thinks the complete opposite.

You see, Kevin has a beautiful outlook on life.  We are all born different.  We're short, tall, fat, skinny, missing limbs, or born with extra toes.  Not one person is a carbon copy of another, so we can't help but stare.  We're all people watchers, aren't we?  How come?  Because we're all "fearfully and wonderfully made" and we can't help but notice the differences.

I remember my Mom and I buying a Coke and sitting in the food court of the mall just to watch people.  I didn't worry about shopping, I just loved watching people!  It never bothered me having a layover in an airport either.  The more time to just sit and enjoy people-watching.

I admire Kevin Connolly so much for one simple reason.  He has confidence in himself, and he accepts himself for just the way he is.  I have all of my limbs and I can honestly say I don't have that.  I sometimes feel like the most insecure girl on the planet!  If Kevin can go through life laughing at people gawking at him for not having legs, shouldn't I laugh at myself for tripping UP the stairs instead of feeling like a moron??

Kevin Connolly has made an impact on my life.  I stayed up most of the night thinking about the lesson I learned by listening to him.  I need to love myself for who I am.  We all should.

Some of us are born without limbs, others may be born with autism, a lazy eye, or something so silly as clumsiness.  We all are fearfully and wonderfully made.. isn't that all that matters in the end?

Oh, and one more thing..  Kevin says he'd gawk, too, if he saw a legless guy racing down Times Square on a skateboard. =D  Dare to be different!  Dare to be yourself!

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