I saw this story on The Mighty via Twitter earlier this month and it really got me thinking. The paragraph about asking us if we need help when you see us struggling resonated with how I feel perfectly. It hurts much more when people pretend to ignore you.
The part of the article that got me thinking though was when Enock spoke about being like everyone else maybe just in a different way. I’ve talked about my struggle with trying to figure out whether feeling like everyone else is what works for me or accepting the fact that I’m different is what feels right. Usually I go with the latter. For whatever reason, it just rings more true for me internally when I say “yeah I’m different and it’s awesome.” I think it makes me feel like more of a rebel or something. That being said, when thinking of the community as a whole, I think it’s probably a lot more helpful if people think of us as just like everyone else. As evidenced by the current climate in the States and other places around the world, when you mix ignorant people with people who are different, a climate of fear is often created. Even though it’s 2017, people still tend to fear what they don’t understand even though they are all perfectly capable of trying to understand.
So I think if society views disabled people as different, there’s a big danger of becoming an “us vs. them” situation. It creates a kind of invisible wall between disabled people and people without disabilities. We need and deserve to be seen as human beings just like everyone else. I think that’s the only way we’ll ever be seen and treated as equals; the only way we’ll ever fully get the accessibility and rights we deserve all around the world. In reality, the fact that we’re all unique and different in various ways is actually what makes all human. We’re all the same in that we’re all different.
I think in some ways I want to be able to see myself as like everyone else too. It’s just the harder path for me. It feels much easier to just say “yeah, I’m different, so what?” and put that wall up instead of considering myself just like everyone else around me. It’s hard to feel that way when you’re constantly reminded of how different you are. When you fall and can’t get up like other people. When you can’t go up stairs like other people. When people stare at you. When you don’t walk like other people. When you can’t travel like other people can. It’s almost impossible to be able to shrug that off and equate it with just doing things differently. But I am human just like everyone else, no matter how differently I have to do things because of my disability. I hope that maybe someday I will be able to successfully shrug it off and not feel so much like I’m on the outside of the world looking in at everyone else and how they do things.