I was thinking this morning about the different ways we can view and face our disabilities and what the “best” way to do that is. In my mind, there seem to be 2 schools of thought on the topic. School #1 calls for accepting that we’re different and embracing that we’re not like everyone else. School #2 calls for not considering ourselves to be any different than anyone else and to accept that we’re just as normal as someone who doesn’t have a disability.
There’s obviously no right answer and I think each of us has to decide which mode of thinking is the best for us in our individual lives. I find myself kind of ping ponging between the two. I think that people with disabilities should be considered the same as everyone else. Just because we have different abilities, doesn’t mean we’re different as people. But at the same time, I’m not sure that’s something I would ever be able to accept about myself. I don’t know that I could ever really consider myself exactly like everyone else. That could still be from insecurity or not feeling like enough but my mind seems to identify more with the idea of being proud to be different.
Even though I’m very much a rule follower and for most of my youth could only be described as a “goody goody” (but proud of it!), as I get older, I’ve started to develop more of a rebellious spirit. Not a law breaking kind of rebellion but a “damn right, I’m different” kind of a spirit. I’ve always identified greatly with people who society views as different or have had to overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles and I know for a fact this is because of my own circumstances. And it’s one of the things I’m most proud of about myself. I’ve gone through waves of wanting to dye my hair pink or date a guy with a bunch of tattoos and piercings just to shock people. Just to stand out (something that terrified me growing up). I’m not afraid to be passionate about causes that other people might not understand or be passionate about. I’m proud that I believe what I believe, even if it isn’t what the majority of the country or even some of my family believes.
So I guess what I’m trying to say with that laundry list is that disability aside even, I basically already consider myself to be different. And more importantly, I’m proud of it. Do I always love my limp and my physical limitations? Of course not. Do I hate how difficult it makes dating? Absolutely. But even with all the tears and frustration that come with it, I know that being born with MD has helped shape the person that I am today.
All this means I guess I identify with School #1. That being said though, I think it’s society’s job to see people living with disabilities under the scope of School #2. We’re people just like everyone else. Sometimes we require special accommodations yes and that needs to be addressed as well, but we shouldn’t be considered this subset of society. We need to be included in the overall whole of it instead. I think that’s the only way any real change can happen in the way disabilities are viewed all across the world. But in terms of our individual views about ourselves, I think it’s more than OK to say “hell yes, I’m different!” That can be applicable to people of all walks of life too.
Maybe this is all contradictory and I’m not making even a bit of sense but those are my thoughts on the topic. Would love to hear yours!