I have always been a social animal from a very early age I was a talkative kid, my physio at the time said it was because my brain wasn’t having to cope with walking as a skill so my language flourished. My circumstances meant that I have always had to be vocal to prevent being pushed to the back of a crowd.
Society sees me differently to able bodied folk, so over the years, I’ve developed a style, a laid back comical attitude, and a chatty persona, indeed anything that makes me memorable. I always refused to let my cerebral palsy infect anymore of my life. It’s had it’s fair share. it’s not having anything else, least of all my spirit.
Scope launched a campaign to irradiate socail arkwadness in the UK earlier today, following a ‘shocking’ statistic that two thirds of the population are frightened of disability and don’t quite know how to deal with someone who has a disability for fear of offence. Sadly, I know all too well that this statistic is bang on.
Despite my confidence and socail skills, I still secretly get a nervous about meeting people I don’t know for the first time. I don’t like the thought that l am the reason people are nervous, because at a basic level, I’m just a human and no human, in my eyes should ever be made to feel uncomfortable just by being in the presence of another.
So I will open with a joke, about the elephant in the room at the earliest convenience, the sooner I do the sooner the person will star to realize that I haven’t got a chip on my shoulder and I don’t blame anyone for the way my life is. Humour has been a great friend of mine over the years.
I encourage everyone to ask me questions no matter how daft, believe there are questions about you normal people, daft ones, that I am always asking, for instance, is there a rhythm to walking? Ladies, what do heels feel like? I could go on, If it helps to put your mind at rest ask me that question, if I think your being to personal I will tell you, and politely tell you so.
I am approachable, but I’m not afraid to pull up the small minded folk who are quite frankly, real life trolls who behave in the most shocking manner, you wouldn’t believe I’ve heard it all from people who believe that speaking in one silable and patting me on the head is a sure fire hit, to the more sinister who believe that ‘my kind’ have no place in society and in the very infrequent cases been told I should be dead. Unacceptable, no matter who you are.
Sometimes the fact that my personality is constantlyseen as positive is exhausting. I’m positive by nature, people have come to expect it, who am I to disappoint? I pride myself on the fact that I am cheery. If I’m down, I’m not down for long.
There are days where I have to pretend I’m OK. Nobody wants to talk to a moaning Arsehole, I definitely won’t make friends then….
Even though, I deploy all of these tactics when meeting new people, I can still find it hard to make new friends, I get tired of the aww bless her routine that some potential friends use. I don’t want pity. I don’t need it so please stop. The friendships that I hold dear are the ones where neither of have had to try.
My two dearest friends one of 26 nearly 27 years, and the other heading for a decade where born from a love of me despite everything, they aren’t worried about my chair and never will be. They are mates with the person, not just because having a disabled mate makes them more socially aware. They don’t except excuses, of I can’t do it cos I’m different and often forget I’m in wheelchair at all. It’s these I care deeply for, I don’t have many friends, but the ones I have enrich my lives more than a 1000 hangers on ever could.
Still feeling awkward? well no matter how many campaigns charities champion or how may opinions disabled people, as individuals try and change. there will always be a small minority who are scared of what we are. You can’t win everyone over, The sad thing is, if they got over the fear, you’d realize that the monster you think I am doesn’t exist.
It’s not what is written or said about you that matters, it’s what you become because of it.
Want to learn how to talk to me? Click here to view the Scope campaign