Dear Person Staring at Me,

By nature I'm not a very confrontational person so I'll try to be as civil as possible. I should warn you that what follows may make you quite a bit uncomfortable -- I am not sorry for that.

This morning when I got out of bed and slid into my wheelchair I had to be very careful. I had to take care to make sure that my wheelchair was locked, that it was close enough to my bed, and that my slide over was properly aimed to land my rear into the seat. If even one thing is out of line I would fall to a very painful injury, resulting in an inevitable fracture (probably my leg). Just imagine an enormous cast on a small person speeding down the sidewalk - I would have given you another thing to stare at. But hell, I'm not about to give you THAT satisfaction! So on a regular day, that is how my morning begins: with caution and specific purpose that my actions do not draw more attention to myself. 

After I get out of the shower (taking care to not slip!) I get dressed. I have made sure that my clothes do not have large plastic jewels sewn on them, do not have Justin Bieber's face plastered on it, or Hannah Montana emblazoned on the front. This is all in a conscious attempt to get you to take me seriously. The clothes that I have on have sometimes required tailoring, and a lot of patience in finding. At this point I've brushed my hair and pulled it into the usual pony tail, trying my best to tame the obnoxious curl in the middle of my forehead; finally, I have looked at the completed 'me' in the mirror and decide: Do I look presentable? Do I seem approachable? Do I look my age? Do I look capable? After being satisfied with those answers I leave my house and enter your line of vision. 
When I leave my house and catch your curious gaze, I start to wonder -- did I leave my fly down? Is my shirt buttoned wrong? Is my hair being unruly? Is breakfast on my face? With a quick flip of my phone I discreetly snap a picture of myself and see that all is well. Everything is in its 'just' place. But your blank stare cues me into something being off, that something just isn't quite right. When I was younger I used to think that the mirrors in my house were somehow misleading. I thought my parents were playing some trick on me. Maybe the mirrors in my house were showing a 'kinder' and 'easier on the eyes' version of myself than what the rest of the world sees? Had you been there on the day I realized the mirrors were like all the other mirrors in the world, I believe you would think twice about that sidelong glance. 

But I'm going to be brutally honest right now: I have spent most of my life learning how to adapt to your expectations, and I'm not about to adapt my physical appearance to your expectations too. Sorry, genetics doesn't allow it. There isn't a store that I can go to in order to buy a taller skeletal frame. There is no VitaminWater flavor that will add strength to my bones. There is no magical helmet that will make my head more 'proportional' to the rest of my body. There are no facial creams that will make my face less triangular. There are no jackets that will forever fix my barrel shaped chest and rib cage. Whatever whimsical dream, fantasy, panacea, wish you could possibly come up with -- trust me, I have already thought it up. And it all comes to the same conclusion: none of that exists. Instead, my entire life has been about taking what exists and making the best out of it. But of course your curious eyes don't see that in the quick glance you have taken, or the long gaze you are taking from the corner of your eyes. 
So for just this one moment in my day, how about you adapt to me? Adapt to my existence! Conform to my expectations of how people should treat others! Go beyond my standards of what being open-minded means! Surprise me! 

For once, how about you break this barrier for me? Try it sometime, you may find yourself staring within yourself instead of at me. 

Respectfully yours, 

*Sometimes it's good to vent* 

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