|Kelsey rocking the sombrero at our December respite night|
My best friend called him “Mr. Happy Sunshine,” and said that he was an idiot. I disagreed. He was my first real boyfriend, and he promised to take me to prom. However, my friend was correct about the latter statement. “Mr. Happy Sunshine” broke up with me on the most beautiful snowy day of the year, draining my life of all happiness and sunshine, and just weeks before the big night. It ruined my prom plans, but not much as the fact that he invited my friend instead. That was harsh.
I just wanted to dress up. I searched for different proms that I could attend, and stumbled upon one at my church for people with special needs. “I could probably wear a pretty dress here,” I thought. I donned my prettiest dress and set out from my tragic breakup that seemingly ended my life, and into the night that began it.
I was a hostess. I escorted guests from their cars into the building where a professional tended to them according to their specific needs. I remember a man with muscular dystrophy hoisting himself carefully out of a van and latching onto my arm and that of his father. He struggled to walk down the red carpet, beaming the whole way, and taking five minutes longer than any other guest to do so. His father said to me, “This is the best he has ever done.” Hobbling slowly for twenty feet was the best that this man had ever done. I spent my whole life in my own world making sure that every tiny detail of my little plans came to fruition, and crumbling if they didn’t, and this man had never gotten out of his chair and walked alone.
That April night I realized how selfish I was. Though I spent my whole life perfecting the person that I am, and I never experienced the fullness of life through another person’s perspective, I am not the only person in the world. I decided that walking beside someone who is struggling is more important than dancing with someone who I think is cute. People with legacies are not people with perfect lives, but people who decide that other people’s lives are more important.
Since then, I helped start a ministry at my church that gives children with disabilities the opportunity to be in a standard classroom environment with the help of a youth volunteer. It is a challenging job that requires a lot of patience. Children often run away or disobey. Junior year, I became an intern that researches other similar ministries, and applies that information to our ministry. In college, I hope to study psychology and disorders so that I can be of more help to those people. Due to that fateful night intended to make myself feel beautiful, I discovered that it is much more rewarding to make others feel that way, even if beauty manifests itself as an unstable walk down a strip of red shag carpet.
Want to hear more from Kelsey? Here's the post where I introduced her and here, here, and here are three other guest posts from her about Joy Prom.