TO: Men all over the planet
RE: Delving into my disability
DATE: February 29th, 2016
Well, boys, we’ve already spent quite a bit of time asking each other a lot of questions: 5 questions I’m too scared to ask, 3 disability-related questions I’m too scared to ask, 5 first-date questions and 5 questions to NEVER ask a woman with a disability.
See? We’ve covered a lot of ground already.
I know it might seem like a bit of overkill, but make no mistake here: I’m a journalist, remember? I live and die by my overdeveloped sense of curiosity — for anything, really. The way I see it, asking questions is the most sure-fire way to figure out the world around you, and of course, that includes people — with all of their quirks and bugaboos and eccentricities.
So! All this to say that you might be a little intimidated or overwhelmed by my disability on our first date. I don’t want you to worry or feel bad about this; it’s only a natural feeling, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be more intimidated by my strong personality. I mean, honestly, there’s always that strong possibility.
Either way, I’m sure you’re going to have some questions, and I strongly encourage you to ask away! Don’t be shy now! And if you need some help to get the ball rolling, here are five important questions to get you started…
1. What was it like growing up with a disability?: It might seem a bit weird, but I’m excited to talk about my disability, and this is definitely a good place to start — at the beginning, of course! And get ready because I’ve got some doozy stories to share!
2. What do people not ‘get’ about your disability?: Obviously, I’ve encountered many, many stereotypes over the years. News flash: Most of them are completely UNTRUE! So don’t believe everything you’ve ever heard. Just ask me. I’ll set the record straight.
3. What are some ways your disability DOESN’T affect your life?: At the same time, there are parts of my life that have nothing to do with my disability. Those are such important aspects for me — just as important as my disability itself — and I want you to know and see that I am a regular woman despite it all.
4. What’s surprised you the most?: As you can probably expect, my journey with a disability didn’t come with a road map. There were no highway signs pointing me in the right direction or telling me where to go. I figured out a lot of it as I went along, and, honestly, I think it’s made me a stronger person in the long run.
5. What have you learned about yourself?: We’re all shaped by our past and who we are, whether we’re disabled or not. I’m sure there are many things from your life that have made you into the person you are today. I want to hear all about it. And I want you to hear all about mine.
Bottom line: Although it’s not all of me, my disability is a big part of who I am. To get to know me is also getting to know my disability and what role it’s played in my life. Some people may very well say that I shouldn’t focus on my disability so much, that I’m making it more of an issue than it needs to be and I’ll potentially make someone more intimidated just by talking about it in the first place. What do I think of that? That’s a bunch of hogwash — pardon my language, but that’s the truth.
We’re going to have to talk about these types of things eventually, so why not start now? No pressure. No awkward undertones. No long silences. Just a free-flowing conversation. Are you with me, boys? xoxo