30 Days of MD: I’ve Found Purpose and Joy by Shifting My Focus

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by BNS Staff |

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Photo courtesy of Hawken Miller

Day 6 of 30

This is Hawken Miller’s story:

The Washington Post newsroom in the summer of 2019 was surreal. I had started writing for my high school newspaper, “The Bolt,” and now, here I was at the highest level of journalism, despite having Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

I credit my early success in journalism to a few things: one, my goal not to let my disease define me; two, focusing on what I can do and not on what I can’t; three, a supportive family and network of friends; four, a God who makes it all possible, who gives me the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to face each day.

Growing up in a wheelchair with a muscle disease is hard. I often felt out of place (and still do) because no one else was going through the same thing. It’s easy to remember everything that’s wrong with me and forget everything that’s right. So, as much as I could, at elementary school and up until college, I turned that paradigm around — focusing on who I was, apart from what I looked or felt like.

It was my ninth-grade English teacher who encouraged me to join my school’s publications club, which produced the yearbook and monthly newspaper. I couldn’t be an active participant in any sports team (though I did do stats and video for the football team), so it made sense for me to focus on what I was good at — writing. And that’s what would eventually open the door to the Post newsroom.

My parents have always been supportive of my aspirations. When I was diagnosed, they had a tough conversation with me. I wouldn’t be a professional athlete, but I could be a novelist, writer, or musician.

Joy is a large part of my life. I have a purpose to fulfill on Earth. I may lack physical ability, but I’ve been blessed with so much more.

Giving up seems like the easy way out sometimes. But if I did that, I would have wasted my one chance to make a difference, to tell people with a disability “You can.”

Note: Hawken Miller is a writer and columnist for BioNews Services, which publishes Muscular Dystrophy News.

Muscular Dystrophy News’ 30 Days of MD campaign will publish one story per day for MD Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofMD, or read the full series.