To one of my best friends who is impressed that I can always stay positive — here is the truth.
The truth is I’m not happy all of the time. I am physically disabled. I have cerebral palsy and I am an amputee. I am a wheelchair user. In my life, I have always chosen to be positive. That’s been my choice because I am lucky to be given this life. When I was born, my mom and I both had only a 5% chance of survival. I don’t take any day or anything for granted. The life I have, however, it is very isolating. I live with my immediate family and can’t drive so I am very dependent on others. I go months without seeing any friends. Obviously, this isn’t ideal but I make the best of it.
I am a writer, so my days are filled with working on pieces, finding new publications to write for, etc. and for relaxation, some Netflix and family time. I feel like because I choose to be positive most of the time and have a positive outlook on my life and situation, people expect me to always be that way. I feel if I am not in a good mood, people always assume the worst and assume something tragic happened. I feel like others don’t consider that I have as much of a scale of emotions as anyone else.
I believe society has a perception that people with disabilities are always cheerful and happy, when that is not the case at all, at least in my personal experience. I get people’s intentions are good when they admire our outlook on life and I appreciate it, but it’s not like we are doing anything special. We are just living our lives the best we can. It’s all about a choice. I think we as a community are good at putting on a brave face in front of other people and the outside world because it’s what people expect. No matter what your disability, if you don’t, you get questions like “What happened?” and “What’s wrong?” all the time.
Having a bad day happens to everyone, and that includes people with disabilities. We need to normalize this being talked about within the community and as a society. Once we do that, we will get to the heart of why people feel the need to say these things to us as a community. I feel they do it because they are shocked at how well we handle ourselves and they can’t imagine doing it themselves.
The truth is, though, you would handle it the best way you could and sometimes you would have bad days and that’s OK. It’s time to stop pushing this impossible standard on the disability community and recognize that we aren’t superhuman. Only then will we stop normalizing being impressed by how the disability community can hold it all together.
To one of my best friends who said he was impressed with my positiveness all the time, I get it. But would you say that to your able-bodied friends? Probably not. See the unrealistic standard and pressure it puts on me personally and the community? It’s not OK. Please think about that the next time I or someone else with a disability does what you consider impressive. We’re just living our lives.