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Nobody has the time to see your weaknesses - My Take by Goa's singing sensation Jolene Dias

Jolene Dias was just 15 when she was affected by muscular dystrophy. In My Take this week, this singing sensation from Goa tells us how she has battled attitudes, others as well as her own, to make a successful career as a music teacher and singer.

I teach western music from home. I also teach at the National Association for the Blind and at Don Bosco, both located in Panjim. I teach vocals at my school called Blue Ocean Waves which is located in Margao and Panjim. I teach children for major exams like the Trinity College London and others. I teach vocals, music theory keyboards for advanced level and violin until grade 3.

Early interest

My journey in the world of music started quite early, when I was five years old. I used to learn the piano and studied music up to Grade 5 with the Associated Board of Royal School of Music (ABRSM). I also studied music theory. However, my intention was never to make a career in music.

While my parents encouraged my interest in music, they wanted me to pursue academics. So, I did my graduation in science and music remained a hobby. However, going ahead, I found academics getting too stressful, while music gave me a lot of pleasure. So I thought why not make music my profession. Especially since I had some background in this as a child.

Gradually I started teaching music. I always had a lot of liking for singing but I never realized that I would develop such a passion for teaching music as well. Today I earn my living just by teaching music.

Coping with muscular dystrophy

My disability has brought with it a fair set of setbacks, mentally and physically. I have a condition called muscular dystrophy, which I developed when I was in Class 9. I fell ill with typhoid while in school and had very high fever which did not go down with regular antibiotics. To reduce the fever, the dosage of antibiotics was tripled. My fever came down, but the side effects of the antibiotics crippled me.

My muscles started giving way and I did not know what was happening. My pace of walking reduced and I could not get up from low chairs or stools. I went to Mumbai to get some tests done and it was there that it was diagnosed as limb girdle muscular dystrophy.

The diagnosis was hard to take and I was depressed. Until I was 14-15 years old, I had lived like a normal human being. Now, as I realized that I had become a little different from others, it was hard to accept. I could not accept my own disability in the early stages. And it did not help that many people would act like I was pretending to be different, or was acting to gain attention. This was just not true.

Battling perceptions

My limbs were seriously giving me pain. There were many things I wanted to do like climb independently, but I could no longer do it by myself. People would also feel like I was not capable of certain things. I do wish to get married although I have to answer many uncomfortable questions. There were many personal, unkind comments I had to face. Like when Crescendo Music released a single for me called Thodi Alag, some people in the industry made comments on what glamour can a person on a wheelchair give us.

To all the people who are not disabled, I would like to say, never underestimate a person going through some challenges, because you may never know how they might inspire you. Always be kind and considerate. Do not make long or crooked faces for a person with a disability, as you have no no idea how the person feels hurt, although they might not show it. When you see a person with a disability, don't just stare at their limitations as if you are watching a TV serial, but empathize with that person and offer help.

If you have a friend with some disability, be a loyal friend, give unconditional love and don't blame or accuse the person in order to be accepted by your rude peer groups. They are humans too with a heart as much as you. Stop pairing a person with a disability with an abled person as a sign of mockery. In fact encourage your friends to be in a relationship with a person with a disability too. You have no idea how romantic a person with a disability can be.

Never raise your voice with a person with a disability. You never know how it can affect them terribly. Overall, people with disabilities are very loving and affectionate. Cherish them for what they are. It's very hard for them to break friendships with others, but once they decide to cut-off, you have lost them forever. You have lost a treasure!!!

And to all my friends with disabilities this is what I have to say - Life is a challenge. If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of your boat. Nobody has the time to see your weaknesses. Your are the builder of your own house. You can't even dream that your own friend will get a brick for you. Just do your thing and prove your abilities to other normal people who can't do anything in life as much as you can.

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