For most young people, “insecurities” can end up causing them to withdraw – to feel like they are alone, and to feel like there is no one who understands them. Worse, insecurities can cause young people to feel like they do not “belong” or “fit in” with any group or set of people. The manner in which Katy Fetters has taken her insecurities and turned them into something positive, however, ought to be an inspiration to us all.
Katy Fetters was born twenty years ago, after only 27 weeks in the womb. Her twin sister Sara ultimately emerged from this premature birth as healthy as any parents can hope for their baby to be; Katy, however, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and the doctors told her parents that she would probably never walk or talk. Of course, these doctors did not know the kind of young girl they were dealing with.
Although it always took Katy longer to do the sorts of things other kids were able to do, she still did everything she could to keep up. Sure, it took her a little longer to learn to walk than it took other kids, but she learned. It took her longer to learn how to ride a bike (three years longer than it took her twin sister, in fact!), but she learned. It took her longer to complete a mile when she ran cross country in school, or to make her way around the soccer field, but she did these things anyway. And it took her longer to feel like she had found her place – but she accomplished this as well.
Not that the road was easy, of course, but it was exactly these difficulties that put Katy in a position from which she could help others understand and deal with the problems they were having; after all, these “problems others were having” were the same problems she had dealt with herself.
Any young person can tell you, of course, that image is important in school. The way a young person is perceived by others will typically be the way this young person perceives their own self. And when you are a young person in Orange County, California, this emphasis on appearances is heightened even further. One instance that particularly stood out to Katy was a time she fell in the hallway at school. It is not unusual for Katy to take a spill – that’s what happens at times when the brain has a difficult time transmitting any messages whatsoever to the left leg – but this particular fall occurred in front of a group of upperclassmen. None of them laughed. None of them made jokes. But none of that mattered at the moment; Katy was mortified. She went home that night and cried. She couldn’t stand living with cerebral palsy anymore. Soon thereafter, however, something changed. Katy realized it was time to take control of her insecurities; it was time to use them for good.
The following year, Katy started the blog teencerebralpalsy.com – and now, the site receives roughly 5,000 page views every single week! She receives emails from young people all over the world who deal with cerebral palsy – telling her their stories, or asking for advice. Katy also won a $20,000 scholarship for her essay on the condition, is attending Soka University, and has appeared on Fox’s television show “Live Life and Win.” She is considering writing a book about her condition as well, in order to further help students who struggle in high school with cerebral palsy.
Through her own struggle, Katy has been able to help thousands of others. Through her own insecurities, she has helped others find hope. And through her own triumphs, Katy Fetters has been able to help others like her find a direction for their future!