Living With a Limb Difference
Faith Schreiner was born missing the lower half of her right arm. Growing up with a limb difference, she had to find new ways to participate in activities that others take for granted. She has learned to overcome challenges through perseverance and determination. While she faced challenges and bullying, she never gave up and learned to love herself for who she is. Today, Faith encourages others who are limb different to keep pushing forward and never give up. She is an inspiration to all who face challenges and demonstrates that with determination, anything is possible.
Tell me about your journey growing up with a limb difference?
Being limb different meant I could never give up. My parents both had two hands so I had to learn to alter things on my own and figure out what worked for me. Going through school, I went through everything that every teenager goes through, my limb difference became an easy target for bullying. I struggled with this and it was probably the biggest hurdle I remember from growing up. Trying to navigate that while also navigating learning everything differently. It was definitely a challenge for me mentally and emotionally.
How did having a limb difference affect the things you participated in growing up?
Being limb different, people think that there is a lot that I can't do, that’s not true. Growing up was often made easier by my dad who is extremely innovative and a fixer. I always like to call him the “Bob the Builder Dad.” I remember one day in school we had a jump rope competition and I remember crying to him because I wanted to participate so badly in the competition but I didn't have two hands to hold the jump rope. Well, he came up with a solution where he took a sock, cut a hole in the middle of it and fastened it to the end of a jump rope. I just had to put the sock on my arm, feed it through, and I could jump rope. Other sports like soccer were easy for me because I had to just use my feet. Then, I went into volleyball, basketball and softball. Softball was the most challenging sport to learn. I mean you have to throw with one hand and catch the other so I had to combine those and do them both with the same hand. My dad came up with a solution which was getting a bigger glove and he would spend hours everyday in the backyard with me throwing the ball as fast as he could and I had to catch with one hand, take my glove off, and throw with the same hand. I even formed a new trick where I would take the ball in my arm and roll it across my chest and it would feed into my hand and I would pull back and throw and put my glove immediately back on. I was lucky to have parents who did a really good job of making sure I could participate in basically everything. When you have a difference of any kind, you just have to make it work. If you want to do the things other people are doing, you just find new ways of doing them that work for you.
What has been one of your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is definitely the mental challenge and I am still overcoming it every day. It took me until just last year to feel comfortable going out in public and just being me. I used to hide myself or not feel comfortable without a prosthetic. Being proud of myself is the thing I have been working toward my entire life. When you are different, it can be hard to find your place and find your confidence. Something that has helped me is finding my community on social media. Seeing people embracing their limb difference and accomplishing incredible things, or even just living ordinary lives as mothers, friends, and athletes, has encouraged me to do the same. It was hard to put myself on social media at first but people will comment and tell me that I am an inspiration or that they love watching me grow and it reminds me why I am doing it. I can proudly say that I love who I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What is an important lesson you have learned?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to never give up. Always keep trying. Something that sticks out to me is when I was younger and I was playing soccer, my sister would always help me put my hair in a ponytail. After a while, she got fed up and said “you are going to have to learn how to do this yourself, I can’t help you forever.” That day, I spent hours in front of the mirror until my arms felt like they were going to fall off practicing until I could finally put my own hair into a ponytail. The feeling whenI did this was so validating for me. It helped me to know that I can do anything. Anytime I have ever put my mind to something I have figured it out. Yes, It can be frustrating, and yes it can be hard, but you just have to keep trying and believe in yourself.
Did you have a role model you looked up to growing up/who is your role model now?
My biggest role models have always been my parents. They have not only shown me how to persevere and never give up, they have always believed in me and pushed me to be independent and strong. They also never treated me differently. They never treated me like I had one hand and sometimes I would get so mad and be like “don't you realize I only have one hand” and they would say “you know you're going to have to live on your own one day and learn to do these things so I'm not going to help you” and while it was a hard thing as a kid it was the best thing they could have done for me because now it's second nature for me to tackle any task and do it with confidence. To this day they are still my biggest role models.
What message would you like to share with people everywhere who are limb different?
The biggest message I have and I know I've talked about throughout this is to never give up. You are enough, you can do it. Just always keep telling yourself “I am enough, I can do this.” It doesn't matter what other people think, you are your own biggest critic. If you put your mind to something I just know you can do it. Parents out there that have a child with a limb difference, I really just want to hug them and tell them it's going to be okay because I know that it can be scary if you don't have anyone in your life that is limb different but I promise they are going to be just fine. Keep showing your love and support. That’s all there is to do.
Below are some of Faith's recommended social media accounts to follow:
|Savannah Stuard||Casey Acree|
|Ashley Young||Lucky Fin Project|