A room covered in boxes, wrappings, and bows accompanied by piles of just-opened gifts. The remains of a hearty dinner filling tummies and like a lullaby, pulling families into naps after all the anticipation and excitement. The thing I forgot about the most wonderful time of the year is that it is also the prime time for sickness. As I’m being reminded of this fact with a sore throat and the feeling of my body giving a definitive feeling of UGH, I try to think of the last time I felt this terrible.
I don’t get sick often, but I have some memories of periods where I became part of the couch living on crackers and Gatorade.
Surprisingly, these aren’t what comes to my mind first. I realized that the feeling that comes to my mind first has nothing to do with a bacterium or virus. Honestly, it’s much more crippling.
The worst thing I have ever felt in my life is feeling like I was less of a person because of my physical disability.
It’s hard to think about, hard to even write that sentence. I mean, why should I feel bad about something that I have absolutely no control over?
It seems ludicrous but I felt this way, and not just for a little while. I’m talking years of my life. I couldn’t make friends in middle and high school, at least not real ones. I ended up hanging out with any crowd that would accept me, and even there I was an outcast.
I’m not the only one. Over the years I’ve made friends who deal with the same things I do and the story is often similar.
So now, years later, I’ve finally realized the truth. I’ve realized that I actually have incredible value just like all of my legally/totally blind friends. But why did it take me so long to figure that out?
Because when I was growing up there were no commercials and models and general media showing blind individuals as we truly are.
Not an anomaly, not “wow that’s incredible they can do x,y,z considering they’re blind”.
I wasn’t exposed to this and neither were my peers,or the peers of my friends. As a result impairments become like that curse word that even those who swear a lot refuse to say.
This isn’t just the case for visual impairment. Across the board physical impairments are displayed as an oddity. An oddity in itself considering that in one car accident, anyone could become a part of our underrepresented group.
I say all of this not to be bitter but to be honest. I would never want someone to go through the isolation that I experienced during school. No one should have to because after all, this is the Information Age. Media does so much to negatively affect younger kids, giving them misconceptions about how they should look or act. Why not make it into something positive? Teach them that physical impairments happen and that those who deal with them are getting through life just the same as everyone else. We can help people to see, we just have to open their eyes.