Welcome back to the blog.
Being disabled is not easy. Having a disability often means, you’re faced with a lot of challenges, hardships, barriers and discriminations. After all, the world is not built with the disabled in mind, despite many improvements on accessibility that have already been done (and without question, there’s definitely more work needed). For me personally, as a visually impaired and a chronically ill person, and having lived with my disabilities for some time, I’d like to take the time today to share with you: on life lessons I’ve learned from being disabled.
Having Good Time Management Skills is Useful
Even though we’re all given 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year. But, having a disability means, there’s never enough time, and doing everything takes time. And, being disabled also means, the need to make wise use of one’s time is important. Personally, I think I have good time management skills, it’s one of the traits I’m proud to have, by nature. But, it’s also a useful skill to have as a disabled person, because a lot of things I do take a lot of time, so in order to make myself feel as productive as I possibly can, I need to use my time wisely.
Be More Patient with Yourself and with Others
As I said, having a disability often means, doing everything no matter how big or small, takes time. So, it’s important to be patient. Personally, I’m not a very patient person, and I can get really hot-headed at times. But, being disabled has taught me to be more patient with myself, and with others as well. I’ve also come to accept that, it’s OK to take more time, it’s OK to make mistakes, and it’s always OK to try again.
It’s OK to Need Help
This is often a hard pill to swallow personally, but it’s true-it’s OK to need help. The reality is, we all need help sometimes, whether we have a disability or not. Nobody can do everything on their own. But, what’s important is- we do the best we can on our part, and when we can’t, we ask others for help. Not only being disabled has taught me it’s OK to need help, it has also taught me that, it’s a good thing to accept help from others, because it gives them the opportunity to feel good about themselves, too.
You’re Not Alone
As much as having a disability can be so isolating sometimes, it is important to remind yourself- you’re not alone, you’re never alone. Personally, I felt so alone when I just discovered the severity of my vision loss, and my unsettling, undiagnosed physical symptoms; and, when doctors, some family members, and even friends said I was probably just “thinking about being ill too often in my head,” I felt so alone. But then, I discovered the blind/visually impaired community, the chronically ill community, and even the ‘undiagnosed’ community, which helped me to feel less alone. The truth is, I don’t know many disabled people in real life, most of my friends and families don’t have a disability, but, I have a few good friends with disabilities, and an amazing online disability community that has been a blessing to have. Many of the people in the online disabled community I don’t know them in person, we never met in person, and we probably never will, but that doesn’t matter, because we get each other, and we cheer each other on. We feel less alone.
One of the things many disabled people feel, and they tell others how they feel about themselves, too often is that, they don’t feel enough, they feel less than enough. But guess what, you’re enough. Like most people with disabilities, I didn’t feel enough, sometimes, it’s not just because that’s how I feel about myself, but by what others (usually through ableist ideologies), that made me feel less enough. Most days, I do the best I could to block those ableist ideologies. I try to tell myself each and every day that, I am enough, even when I don’t feel that way, or on days my disability has made me accomplish nothing on that day. I tell myself, that’s still enough, and I’m still enough.
Your Journey is Yours, and Yours Alone
We can have supportive loved ones, friends, and other people that are caring, loving and helpful in our lives, and walk our journey with us, but, we can’t have anyone live our lives for us. This is true for disabled and non-disabled people alike. Our lives and our journeys are ours to walk on. A disabled person’s life means, life can be a little more difficult at times, you might face more obstacles than the average person in life, but disabled or not, life still goes on. Personally, I’m grateful to have many supportive people in my life, be it my friends, or my loved ones, and thankful that they chose to come to walk with me on my journey. I’m also fully aware that, I’m the only person that’s responsible for my life. And, I cannot and will not have anybody to replace that responsibility.
You’re Your Best Advocate
Being disabled means, you’re constantly having to advocate for yourself, whether your realize this or not. Because, let’s be real, your disability often puts you in a position where you’ll face accessibility issues, accommodation issues, and discrimination, to name a few. But, it’s so important to know that, your disability is not your fault; inaccessibility is not your fault; and discrimination is not your fault. So, being disabled means, you’re constantly fighting for accessibility, and fighting for your needs to be met, and your voices to be heard. Sometimes, all of this is not easy. But at the same time, advocacy is important when you have a disability, because you’re your best advocate, and you know yourself the best. But, it is also important to point out, not every disabled person wants to be an advocate, more often than not, they’re forced to be one. Let me give you and example, I was not an advocate most of my life. When I was younger, my family and loved ones advocated for me, and, it was not until when I was a lot older, in my mid 20s, I learned the importance of advocacy as a disabled person, and became an advocate soon after.
It’s OK to Get Frustrated or Angry at Your Disability
Being disabled can be quite frustrating sometimes, not just because of inaccessibility alone, but being disabled takes time, energy, effort, and all of these things could add up. Even though for the most part, I’m trying my best to be kind and patient with myself, I still get frustrated at times, especially when I can’t do something as fast as the average person, or just the fact that, most of my friends are now working in full-time work, and I’m not. I have to constantly remind myself, I’m doing the best I can, and I can get angry at my disability sometimes, but I can’t change the fact that I’m disabled and that’s OK. Luckily, I don’t usually let those hard feelings sink in, and I can usually work my mind out of it, and get on with my life.
Having a disability may not be easy, but it is the reality of most disabled people in our society. Despite many hardships, I think I’m thankful for my disability, because without it, I probably wouldn’t have learned so many important life lessons, I probably wouldn’t have found my passion through activism. Without my disability, I probably could have taken a lot of things for granted in life. I consider my disability as a part of me, not everything about me. I’m disabled, I’m also more than that. I have passions dreams, hobbies, talents, and so much more. I hope you’ve learned at least a thing or two from this blog. And, if you also have a disability, can you relate? Do you have any other lessons you’ve learned from your disability? Let me know in the comments below!
By: The Invisible vision Project