Expectations ‘should not define you’, says reporter

As part of International Women’s Day 2024, our reporter Amy Hetherington has encouraged people not to be confined by “others’ expectations”.

Writing for the Okehampton Times, Amy, who was born with cerebral palsy, set out how she lives her life despite the limitations placed on her by being underestimated by other people.

Amy writes: As a disabled person, I have constantly been underestimated; from medical professionals who informed my parents I may never walk, swim or ride a bike to well-meaning individuals who automatically jump in to help with tasks I am capable of doing myself.

I was born with cerebral palsy which affects the whole left side of my body. As a result, my left hand has limited function, the muscles on my left side are stiffer and weaker and I walk toe-to-heel with my left foot.

Despite this, those who know me will know I am perfectly capable of walking (several miles cross country with a dog beside me, in fact), swimming and riding a bike.

Reporting duties

Even those who know me in my professional capacity as Okehampton’s local reporter will have spotted me striding around the town weighed down with a heavy bag containing numerous shorthand notebooks, pens, pencils, camera, and occasionally microphone and tripod.

This underestimation is something I know many disabled people experience and, in a different capacity, I think many women experience too.

In the past, us women were relegated to the role of mother and housewife but men could rise to the rank of doctor, politician and successful businessman.

Society has come a long way since then. The UK has had three female prime ministers, there are thousands of female doctors and many businesswomen.

Yet still, women face questions that men do not. Can I manage full time work and motherhood? Can I cope in a male-dominated work environment?

My answer is yes – don’t let others’ expectations define you. I was determined to live independently, despite those saying otherwise, so I did.

Who knows, your determination might just inspire someone else.

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