I Am Different, Not Less

Posted on August 24, 2020

Each semester, the IETF awards four $1,000 college scholarships to students who have essential tremor through its Catherine S. Rice Scholarship Fund. As part of the application process, students are asked to write an essay on the topic, “how essential tremor has affected my life.” The following essay is from one of our fall 2020 scholarship recipients.

By Madison Young,
Arkansas Tech University

“Different not less” may be my favorite new quote from a movie. I recently had to write a paper for one of my undergraduate classes. The paper is for a class where we study disabilities and the lifespan. The class is designed for my major, rehabilitation science. I needed to choose a disability, then study and summarize findings on how it progressed, changed, and affected the life of a person on all levels. I decided to choose autism. A neighbor who is a physical therapist recommended several books and a movie called Temple Grandin. The movie was amazing.

I have essential tremor (ET) and while I am in no way comparing it to autism, so many things about Temple’s life touched me. She never let her disability define her. She never let people tell her she could not do certain things because of her disability. There is a point in the movie where she was speaking about how her family has always encouraged her to be all she can be. My family has done the same for me. When she said “I am different, not less” I had a lump in my throat. Those are words I can live by.

Madison Young 2020 scholarship winner photo

There are tasks that are harder than they should be because of my tremors but that will not stop me from trying and doing all I want. I realize I shouldn’t even try to paint my nails and that buttering toast looks a little weird when I do it. But give me four more years and everyone will be calling me Dr. Young, so I don’t get caught up in the things I can’t do well.

Next semester I will be starting my last semester of college and it will be an internship. I will work in a physical therapy clinic. While I am excited to be stepping into the next stage of life, I know there will be new faces and new people seeing the tremors that will certainly make themselves known. It is a bit uncomfortable when strangers do the polite look and look away and repeat, but I hope they are bold enough to ask about my tremors.

I honestly believe I can use this disability I have to reach others on a level that others will not be able to. Patients I will be seeing will be in pain, be uncomfortable and be self-conscious. I want to connect to those patients and help ease their minds.

I understand that treating a person is more than just helping them recover physically. There is an emotional, mental aspect of the injury or disability that sometimes gets overlooked. I want to help treat them completely. I believe my vulnerability will help break down the scars others might not ever see. I honestly believe that having ET gives me an advantage in the profession I am pursuing – doctor of physical therapy.