StoriesDec 2, 2019

The Honor of my Life: Samantha’s Story

“My name is Samantha Greenberg. I am 30 years old and I’m living with Spina Bifida in Arlington, Virginia. 

Like many things in my life, this story was inspired by a good cup of coffee and the written word. In May 2018, I attended the Spina Bifida Association’s inaugural Teal on the Hill event, as a representative of my SBA chapter from the Philadelphia area. It was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I was able to share my story with my Members of Congress and contribute to tangible changes for the Spina Bifida community. After the event, I spent a few extra days in the Washington DC. area to spend time with family and friends who were local. Over the days that followed, I noticed how accessible the area was and how freely I was able to get around independently. I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. I knew in my heart that D.C. was where I needed to be. 

During my explorations around the city, I ended up at an art museum with a friend. We were browsing the gift shop when a colorful coffee mug caught my eye. It featured the art of Frida Kahlo, was believed to have been born with Spina Bifida. In between the colorful images, the mug was inscribed with the words, “I never painted my own dreams. I only painted my own reality.” This phrase immediately resonated with me because I feel like at Teal on the Hill, painting our own reality is exactly what we set out to do. 

This is not where the story ends, however. The morning after I returned home to Philadelphia, I decided to have my morning coffee in my new mug. When I opened the box, what I saw immediately gave me chills from head to toe. The inside of the box featured a Frida Kahlo quote, “Feet, what do I need you for if I have wings to fly?” I had never resonated with a quote more in my life. In typical fashion, I went to Google to see if the quote matched how I interpreted it, and indeed it did. In this quote, Frida was saying that despite whatever disability or challenge you may face, you are still capable of greatness. This quote finding its way into my life was a sign from the universe. I decided at that moment to seriously pursue relocating. 

Over the next eight months, I submitted countless applications and went on several job interviews. I was repeatedly getting rejected and was so close to giving up, until one day, fate stepped in. In early February 2019, I discovered that the Spina Bifida Association was seeking a Communications Coordinator. 

Ever since I attended my first National Conference in 2010, I had a goal of working for SBA in some capacity. I immediately applied, and had an interview two days later. By the end of the week, I was offered the position. My life changed in an instant. I had done what I set out to do. 

On March 16, 2019, I moved to Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. I am a self-described late bloomer, and, with the exception of a college dorm, this was my first time living on my own. While it has not been easy, it was the best decision I have ever made for myself. I am experiencing new adventures each and every day and I’ve grown, both personally and professionally. The Spina Bifida community is my second family, and being able to serve them through my work is the honor of my life. 

I’m sitting here writing this story while waiting in the train station in Philadelphia after visiting my family. Every time I leave DC and return home, I am reminded of the gratitude I have for finally achieving the independence I always knew I needed. I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to realize that I have “Wings to Fly”.” – Samantha Greenberg, adult with Spina Bifida