By Siya Chhabra (’24)
“The biggest challenge of life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.” In his Ted Talk, “We Are All Different, and THAT’S AWESOME!,” Cole Blakeway, an idiosyncratic ten-year-old makes intelligible the importance of embracing differences. Blakeway speaks with truth, in the most unsullied yet innovative way possible, to portray his experience with embracing yourself, and understanding that being distinctive isn’t ever a bad thing. It solely means that you are fearless, and courageous enough to exhibit the truth.
Since he could remember, entirely for the enjoyment that is interwoven within it, Cole determined that he would don two differently-composed socks and a differing pair of shoes on a daily basis, fabricating himself a perfectly mismatched world. He eloquently tells the tale of his lighthearted anecdote at a bookstore with mother. He asserts that his mother sincerely gives credence to the fact that an accurate embodiment of him, is a written piece called, “You’re Weird.” Blakeaway truly considers this journal the crème de la crème, a cut above the rest. Why? It supports the open depiction of your true self.
After this entertaining segment of his disquisition, Blakeway announces and propounds a nonpareil relationship he has with a certain individual within the confines of his childhood. He calls it, “…a little different than you might expect.” This preteen possesses a sui generis, delightful, and close relationship with Steven, a 44 year old man, who is on the spectrum, as he has Autism; it is a critical developmental and maturational disorder that impairs one’s ability to communicate, connect, and interact. Nevertheless, Blakeway then elucidates the way in which this “special friendship” came to be. He accounts that, once when his mother was teenager, she met Steven, who was seated at a particular special-needs table. Once he caught her attention, Steven asked Blakeway’s mother an amalgamation of three quirky questions. He asked, “What are you having for lunch? What is your phone number? Will you be my friend for forty years? After his mother responded with a positive riposte, Steven promised that he would call her on a daily basis. Every single day. Blakeaway excitedly portrays that, “Ever since that day in 1988, he has kept his promise, and called our house every single day.” In addition, Blakeway explicates that this is the reason why he refers to this man, as “Uncle Steven.” Effectively, Blakeway portrays the difficulties that come with possessing Autism. He says that although Steven may not be able to partake in supposedly “normal and routinely” tasks, like operating a vehicle, he can in fact prodigiously recall each phone number he has ever perceived. Blakeway continues to rejoin the many one-of-a-kind and slightly unusual things he loves about Steven, and articulates Steven’s joyfulness, no matter what the day.
Towards the end of his talk, Blakeway, a well-expressed rhetorician, poses four quite influential and categorically unembellished statements. “I don’t think we need a cure for Autism, just like we don’t need a cure for freckles. Autism is not a disease, just like brown hair isn’t a disease. You don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken.” “Image a world where we all live like Steven.” In his incentivized talk, Cole Blakeaway enunciates the significance of living in simplicity, ensuring only one aspect, that you are always being yourself. Blakeway and Steven’s non-genetic consanguinity should be an encouragement to all. Whether it exhibits the imperfect, flawed, incorrect, bizarre, or the weird, it’s real, and that’s what is pivotal, of great importance, and moment.”Be yourself” is quite conceivable as the most habitually used phrase in the antiquity of individualist-based guidance. However, Cole Blakeway puts meaning and substance to this perennially-utilized term, and continues to represent the unconventionality of our world, and the way in which existing as you, in actuality, will be utterly beneficial to all.