I just had to write a 600 word news article for my news research class. The article was on observations and we had to write about something that we have observed. While there was a barrage of things that I could have potentially written about, I chose to write on my favourite topic: Disabilities. Well, to be more specific, my topic was how the public perceives those with physical disabilities. You may not realize if you don’t have a disability, but coming from someone who does, there are many misconceptions and prejudice out there. We get stares, double takes, laughs, etc etc on an almost daily basis. So much so, that it doesn’t even really bother or faze me anymore. I actually have become numb to it and I don’t tend to notice. Obviously some encounters are worse than others, or more memorable.
A short anecdote here that just crossed my mind, I was at Shoppers Drug Mart (equivalent of CVS and Walgreens in the States) with my mom. She had to go pick something up somewhere else I think she I said I’d just wait there and shop a bit. Well, I was just browsing the aisles and was walking toward the pharmacy. I noticed a group of about 5 or so kids (probably teenagers) sitting in the pharmacy area waiting for something presumably. I noticed one stand up and look my way then he sat down. Then they ALL stood up, looked my way and laughed. And if you think I’m being paranoid and they were laughing at something else, well.. I was looking at hair brushes or something like that and I noticed two of the same kids following me. As soon as I turned and glared at them they ran back to their buddies and I heard them all laughing. I am not telling this story because I was hurt or sad. Quite the opposite actually, I really felt like punching their faces in. I tell this story because this is what people with disabilities deal with. These are the stories that we are too embarrassed to tell. Mine was not an isolated event. I know it has happened to others because it has happened to me multiple times. I interviewed my best friend for my news article that I just wrote and this is in part what she had to say. I hope it is okay that I share this because it really meant a lot to me.
“When I was in High School, I noticed a girl who lived on the same street as me. We would frequently take the same bus, walk mere yards away from eachother, but because she looked different, I didn’t know how to approach her. A few years later, we ended up in the same English class. At first I didn’t know what to say, or how to approach her. I quickly learned though that, yet again, how society perceives disabilities had greatly affected what I thought. It turned out it wasn’t a mental disability, just physical. Just like my friend who had be constrained to a wheel chair. But because I didn’t know, I was ignorant and assumed. That girl is now my best friend. She has opened my eyes to disabilities of all types. People say things about people, how they look, speak, and think. But just because someone isn’t the same as me, or anyone else, doesn’t mean they don’t feel and think in their own way. Some of these people are so much more human because they have been looked at differently. Because they have experienced life in a way that the majority of the world could never even understand.” I know this to be true because we’ve talked about it, the girl that she was afraid to approach was me. And yeah, now she’s my best friend. I have to wonder though, how often this happens. How often are people afraid to approach or talk to me? Does it happen at college? I’m not going to lie, college isn’t as fun as people said it should be.. I wasn’t going to share that because I am a little ashamed of it (in society, being popular is key, I guess) but I promised to use integrity when I started this blog and I promised not to leave things out. This really is to raise awareness of everything that having a disability entails. Yes, I talk to people in my classes, they talk to me, noticed my new tattoo, asked about that, etc etc. In terms of having people to hang out with outside of class, not so much. My roommate and I are becoming pretty good friends I think so that is good.
Anyway, my Mac is about to die and my charger is back in res so I better get back and plug it in. I just wanted to say how completely grateful I am for my friends and the people in my life that totally overlook the whole Moebius Syndrome deal.
Please remember, if you see someone with a disability, don’t be afraid to approach them and say hi. I am sure they would appreciate it. Just as any “normal” person would.