I’m many things to many people: daughter, sister, friend, coworker, writer, quirky comedian. All these parts of me harmoniously exist together; in fact, people are amazed at the sheer fact that I don’t topple over from wearing all these different hats.
But sometimes, two pieces of me — my womanhood and my physical disability — don’t fit into the puzzle so easily. Sometimes, I feel like I can be one or the other, apparently, but never both. I can be a woman. I can be someone with a physical disability. But I can never be a woman with a physical disability. Now, maybe this is how I’ve built it up in my head, but nonetheless, these sorts of thoughts of creep in.
But why? You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to have the two coexist. Yet sometimes I picture them in this battle with each other — each trying to be “top dog” and shine brighter than the other.
That’s why I’ve always been a huge proponent of people-first language. I’m not a disabled woman. I am a woman with a disability. It looks like a small thing, those two ways of identifying someone with a disability, but the latter does something with first one does: Emphasizes the person. It doesn’t mean you’re negating the person’s disability. It doesn’t mean you’re pretending said disability doesn’t exist. I suppose it just means that I’m embracing all of me.
In conversations with people, and in posts on my blog, I’ve begun trying to reconcile the two. I know they can peacefully coexist, but I can’t wrap my head around it sometimes. Or maybe I don’t want to? I’m not so sure. But I do know that I am a woman with a disability.
The truth is, this womanhood is something that is mine. And my disability is something that is mine too. I own them. Both of them.
So, friends, tell me: Who are you? What hats do you wear in your family? Among your friends? At work? Do you ever find that you have competing hats? Are there parts of you that sometimes don’t go too well together? How do you deal with that when it happens? xoxo
[Photos via Le Love]