Just Call Me ‘Disabled’…

…Or maybe you could use my name.
I don’t feel like a disabled person. What is wrong with that sentence? I’ll tell you; how is it possible to ‘feel’ like a disabled person? What does a disabled person feel like? Are they -we- all made in the same mould? With the same thoughts, emotions and goals? A community within the human race that, while attempting to fit in to society, also belong to a separate world?
It’s as simple as that.
No one can feel like a disabled person, we are not a different species. Some people can run fast. Some people can’t. Some people can attend school or work full time. Some can’t leave their beds. Would you separate slow and fast runners outside a PE session? Would you openly stare at someone and whisper ‘she came last in that race on Monday!’ to your friend? Would you give that slower person pitying glances outside an athletics competition?
You might think being ‘disabled’ is not normal, is uncommon. But take a moment to think; everybody is ‘less able‘ than somebody else in one area or another. You might be liked by a huge group of people, able to judge their emotions and intervene in tense situations, stopping your friends from arguing, but if you were asked to recite your times tables? Er, anyone got a calculator?!! So you are less able than another person your age who loves to do complex algebraic equations in order to unwind in the evening… But that could be all they do. Algebra. Alone. Every night. Because they don’t feel comfortable in social situations. They would then be less able than the person I described earlier to make friends or accurately judge other’s emotions. Another person might be perfectly capable at maths and socialising but could hate sports. Everybody is less able in one area or another. Everyone is skilled in one way or another. This is just seen as a small part of what makes up them, their character.
If you are labelled disabled no one overlooks your disability as just a part of who you are. A part that, yes, makes a big difference to your life and means people need to make special allowances, but still just one part. It is made out to be a ‘big thing’ something you need to work round but can’t, something that puts you at a disadvantage.
I am not just less able one subject or another. I am far far far less able -find it impossible- to survive on my own. But my body making me less able to concentrate for long periods of time, to walk around, to take part in oh so many ordinary activities -sometimes even unable to stand, does not mean that defines me. A lack of mathematical ability is not 100% of somebody’s life. You push past it and see their immense kindness. My disability is not me. It is something that affects 100% of my life but don’t take that to mean it makes up 100% of my life. I love to write, to photograph the world around me, to try and make my friends’ lives better, to sing along to my favourite songs, to put on a ridiculous amount of makeup and laugh at myself in the mirror. I love to learn, to take things in and I desperately want to do something worthwhile with my life. I want to make something meaningful.
I am not a label, a statistic, a ‘disabled person’. In just the same way that you are not ‘the person who failed all their A level mocks’ or ‘that kid who never did well at sports day’. We are more than the things we are not able to achieve. We are the things we do achieve. And the things we dream of achieving.

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