Being disabled means you get judged way before people even strike a conversation with you. The common stereotypes I get are:
⁃ aww isn’t she lovely
⁃ bless her it must be hard
⁃ Isn’t it nice she gets out
⁃ She must have a really hard life
I found myself from an early age (but it really kicked in from my teenage years) wanting to prove to people I am not these things.
I would be extra cheerful when meeting people. I’d go into detail with taxi drivers about the good things in my life when I could see the pity look through the mirror. I would smile at people staring when really I wanted to go and have a rant. I’d also hide when I was actually in pain from breaking bones because that’s what people expected.
I’ve been thinking about this and how ridiculous it is looking back. I don’t blame myself for doing it because, who wouldn’t want to fight back negative assumptions? I think what I’ve started to realise is that this way takes a lot of energy. It’s consuming and can lead you away from focusing on being the real you.
Not being cheerful wouldn’t be me giving into stereotypes, it’s just being real. Sharing the positives of my life to strangers isn’t my duty, does it really matter if strangers feel sorry for me? I don’t know still working on that one. And everyone has pain in their life, some more than others, so me hiding my pain is a bit pointless isn’t it – especially when I have brittle bones (lol).
So, where am I going with this? I don’t know really. I was just thinking about life before lockdown and me being constantly determined to show everyone I am ABSOLUTELY SMASHING IT. In lockdown, there’s none of that for me, it’s just me taking my time and doing what I want to do.
So if you’re young and disabled and can relate, take a (metaphorical) step back – would it be really that bad if you just didn’t care? Easier said than done but it’s quite freeing when you start to try.