Cambry Kaylor was a promising equestrian vaulter with dreams of competing internationally. At age 18 she suffered an accident that left her paralyzed. She is featured in our new video series, Hope Works, as one of six presenters who share interesting insights about hope and faith and how it works in their lives. We asked her to share more of her thoughts on finding happiness and humor in the face of challenges.
You told a story about a funny moment in an anatomy class. You said you had experienced many moments that felt awkward at the time but now make you laugh. Will you share another one with us?
I’ve had so many awkward moments that it’s hard to keep track of them all, but one will always stick out in my mind. I was still pretty new to the wheelchair and had just started my freshman year of college. It was the first Sunday of the semester and all the students in my dormitory congregated outside in the parking lot, waiting for the resident assistants to show us the way to our church building. We formed something of a line walking down the sidewalk. Naturally, the assistants had me in the front—they didn’t want to lose track of the only girl in a wheelchair.
As we crossed the street, one of my little wheels must have caught a rock. I flipped backward. I remember thinking, “Not the skirt!” I reached forward, hoping I hadn’t exposed myself to the hundreds of freshman who undoubtedly saw what happened. I had barely hit the ground when the driver of a car waiting for us to cross jumped out and scooped me up.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got you,” he said. After a pause he added, “I work with dead bodies.”
He must have thought I’d find the additional information comforting. My facial expression clearly said otherwise and so he explained, “I work at a morgue. You’re a bit wigglier though.” He sat me back in my chair. I’m not sure who felt more awkward in that situation, but it makes me laugh thinking back on it.
How can all of us learn to love ourselves, regardless of our physical appearances or apparent disadvantages?
I wish there was a simple answer for this, but it’s complicated. Personally, I had an incredible support group of family and friends that would give me genuine compliments and reminders of the strength and beauty I had in my “new body.” At first I would hear compliments and think, “I may be smart, but I am crippled.” I had to change my language and thoughts. Even if I didn’t believe the positive things, I thought them until I did. “I am smart, but… ‘But’ nothing—I am smart!”
When we fall off our own “horses,” what would you say is the first step or two to getting back on, the way you did both literally and figuratively?
Decide you are going to be resilient and not afraid to fall, knowing you can rise again. Life is a crazy journey, and you get to choose how you handle the twists and turns. I urge you to use laughter, strength, and perspective.