It's Not Always You, Sometimes It's Me

"okay you're going to feel a pinch from the clamp and then the needle will go in" I gave a microscopic nod, my eyes wide and dead set on the 5inch needle she held. 
"it helps if you close your eyes and take a deep breath in, and then when I say breathe out you should slowly let it out. It'll be over before you know it!" She put the clamp on and I shut my eyes.
"Dude you finally did it!?" Back at the dorms my friends gathered around and asked me how much I bled, and whether or not it hurt. All of them were universally agreeing that it looked 'totally cool.' The it being... my eyebrow piercing. 

Yes my mother was horrified, my dad said nothing, and my brothers thought it was awesome. Why did I do it? Why did I wait until sophomore year of college, and 19 years-old? How come I got my eyebrow pierced before I even got my ears pierced? TO LOOK OLDER.

Taken shortly after "IT" happened. 
It was my second year in college and I was tired of being spoken to like a child everywhere I went. Somehow being alone in the world, without my parents, the way other people treated me became more noticeable. I hadn't noticed it until then, but I s'pose having my family and parents around was like having a shield to fend off blatant stares, condescending voices, and crude questioning. Just like any other 19 year-old I wanted to reach my 20's faster, I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of "being older," but most of all I wanted to prove to all the strangers I passed on the street that I AM FINE.. AND DON'T NEED YOUR HELP. Four years later I realize how much fun that stage in life was for me, but also how silly at the same time. Through internships, work experience, the dating scene, and the help of friends & family - I realized that it's not at all about how "child-like" in stature one might be, but it's about poise and how you hold yourself. There's a confidence that I have gained in my life experiences that have helped me to gain a person's respect and feel less like I'm actually the same height as their leg.
The moment I realized that empowering myself allowed my diminished physical size to seem much greater was a time that I will never forget. It's as important to me as when I first started walking. There's a sense of independence, confidence, and accomplishment that is unique to me and something I can claim as my very own. If I could give every disabled individual something I would give them their own moment of that realization.

Suggestions on 'Seeming Older': 
  • It starts from the inside. If you believe that you should no longer be considered a child, it doesn't matter if your voice is high-pitched or you're the size of a 6 year-old. In this case actions speak louder than images. Act the way you'd like to be treated.
  • Being smaller means that you probably wear smaller clothes. But this doesn't mean you are stuck with clothes with child-like images and silly slogans on your (professional) attire. There are many tailors around who are able to create appropriate jackets, blazers, pants, slacks, skirts, button ups etc. Another suggestion is to buy smaller sizes of adult clothing and or get them altered. 
  • This tip took me years to learn on my own, but there is a way to look at someone without tilting your head upwards 45 degrees with your mouth gaping open. Look INTO the person as opposed to UP AT the person. When meeting someone new, meet their eye-contact as soon as possible. The 'playing-field' will already be half-leveled before you know it. (This takes lots of experience and practice,especially if you're like me and rather shy!)
  • If you are fidgety, try not to be fidgety with your wheelchair or other assistive device. Constantly fiddling with your joystick, belt buckle, or gripping your wheels will tend to draw more attention to the image of being disabled. 
  • DO NOT be afraid to ask for help. Knowing what you need and how to get what you need is a sign of mature insight. 
  • If you find yourself in a situation where you are being treated in a condescending way, it's YOUR responsibility to change it... in a way that is respectful, considerate, and try not to burn bridges as you do so. Sometimes saying something like "well it's good to know I'm aging so well, but I'm actually..." or "Can we find a place for you to sit as well instead of kneeling uncomfortably?" Making light of the situation, or changing it to 'accommodate' the other person tends to do the trick!

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One Response to It's Not Always You, Sometimes It's Me

  1. YESSSSSS, I was there, it was great, oh Sandy :D hehehehehehehehe


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