Recently, I was asked to write about overcoming adversity. While I have experienced a number of things, I realized that I have not ever really had true adversity in my life.

Have I had challenges? Yes! Have I had love? More love than I could ever fully understand.

Aside from Cerebral Palsy, I’ve had illnesses—from a neuromuscular disorder called Myasthenia gravis, where my eyes drooped closed and I had to lift my head to see (which miraculously disappeared after about a year)—to a lemon-sized cyst (which I had removed) and numerous other procedures. All of which I barely remember, mostly because I was too young and too happy to notice. My mom said I would always sing after surgery. Old MacDonald was a particular favorite.

I’ve had special circumstances, to be sure—loss, disappointment, betrayal, and heartbreak. Were these things adversity? Or simply a wake-up call that something needed to change? Or were they opportunities for miracles and more blessings to come my way? The more I live, the more I see that all things in my life have had a purpose—a lesson, a blessing.

My parents’ divorce taught me to look at truth from many different perspectives, and to communicate more effectively with those I love. My “failed” relationships taught me to look at a man’s character over his charms. Rather than adversity, I’d call my challenges badges of honor or diversity of experience, celebrating all I have seen and come through.

Of all these, my disability has been the greatest blessing of my life so far. I have seen more kindness in the busiest city in the world than I can possibly account for, on a daily—even hourly—basis. I don’t just mean the dozens of free cab rides and free hot dogs and ice cream—I mean the open doors, open hearts, kind words, and genuine smiles I receive every single day. That kindness follows wherever I go. My ski poles (walking sticks) have been the Moses-like staff that parts seas on the streets of New York and beyond . . .

I’m living proof that Chivalry isn’t dead—and it’s not just a boy-girl thing—it’s part of the human condition. For this reason, the very thing that most people think might be my greatest “adversity” has been the most beautiful, cherished and valuable aspect of my life.

…and all I want to say is Thank You!

* Photo of Xian Horn by Gina Fortunato

Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, serving as writer, mentor, and positivity activist. A member of an international network of extraordinary women, 85 Broads, she was heralded by founder Janet Hanson as an “amazing role model for all women.” With her personal stories and ongoing mentoring work, Xian Horn is invested in contributing positively to self-esteem and the collective self-image, especially for women. To support her True Beauty efforts for people with disabilities, please join Xian’s Facebook community.