Having a disability can so often be seen as a negative thing. Venues are more difficult to access, you’re often stared at by passers by, and planning to go on holiday can sometimes take all the fun out of the thought of relaxing by sand and sea. But, disability is also a part of everyday life, and something we must get used to and accept if we want to live a full, crazy and adventurous life, with many giggles along the way.
I was born with cerebral palsy, and have now been a wheelchair user for almost sixteen years after having corrective surgery on my thighs at the age of nine. It took me a while to get used to a life on wheels, but many amazing opportunities have come my way since then. Here are some important things I’ve learnt about having a disability:
- It’s important to…Focus on your Assets…. Be that a winning smile, a cracking sense of humour or the gift of the gab – there are many things that define you aside from your impairment. A wheelchair or prosthetic limb is particularly easy to spot, so take up the challenge to make sure that that isn’t the first thing that members of the public see when they lay eyes on you for the first time. Many disabled people I’ve met have the BEST stories to tell, due to their experiences. It’s humour and kindness that grabs me, not a visual impairment or dwarfism, for example.
- It’s important to remember… Patience is a Virtue … Slow and steady often wins the race. Things make take more time and effort with a disability, but man, the reward is sweet. It’s annoying having to wait for a wheelchair part, or plan every last bit of your night out with friends, especially making sure that the venues have accessible bathrooms! But remember that the patience you learn through your impairment will set you in great stead for whatever else life may throw at you, and that can’t be a bad thing!!
- It’s important to remember… There are many perks to the job …. To balance out some of the rubbish, painful days, there’s nothing quite like getting around Disneyland in a day, or getting to your car in 30 seconds in a thunderstorm. Take advantage of all the benefits that disability may bring; you’ve certainly earnt them!
- It’s important to remember… It’s a great ‘relationship filter’ … Disability isn’t seen as very sexy to many people, but it’s great to know that anyone who is interested has enough about them to not care what anyone else thinks. At 25 years old, I’m finally starting to learn that my wheelchair can be fun, fashionable and sexy all at once, and if I can do it, anyone can. Enjoy the fact that, in many ways, being honest about a disability makes the dating game much simpler.
- The most important thing…If you’ve got it, flaunt it… Actually, disability can be flipping sexy! And it’s up to you to show that. Embrace everything a go for it – what’s the worst that could happen?!
So whether you’re going on holiday, on a first date or to a job interview, remember that disability doesn’t have to be negative and often, your confidence around your own impairment will pull you through, as will any hilarious stories you may have of your experiences; everyone loves a tale or two! This journey has been a long one for me but I’ve learnt so much about my capabilities rather than my limitations, and I’m ready to see what’s next!!