Guest Blog: Trick Mirrors

This is a guest blog post from my friend K who talks about her ideas of being different and seeing different. She is much more gutsier than me when it comes to physical appearance, so I'm glad that I have someone a little more willing to let us in on her thoughts on such tricksy topics. 

My entire childhood was spent trying to fit into a world that was forever screaming at me that I was different and that I would never fit into it. Growing up, I was mainstreamed as a kid with a physical disability into a world of non-disabled peers. I struggled socially a great deal especially in high school where I faced the most alienation I have ever felt in my life. I was different and chronically ashamed of my disability for making me different. Although my disability, to me, was clearly the root of the ignorance I felt from my peers, I still found myself dealing with a peculiar consequence that I blame on trying to fit in to a world that appeared to function in a way that didn’t want me.

Having a physical disability among a sea of non-disabled people can greatly alter one’s perception of themselves. I grew up doing everything in my power to be like my non-disabled peers. In a lot of ways, my quest for normality resembled that of any child trying to fit into the cookie cutter society we live in, except when it came to my altered perception of myself. By the time I accepted my disability as something that was truly apart of my identity and something that I never needed to be ashamed of, I had created a non-disabled perception of myself. In my head, I had the appearance of a non-disabled person... 

If this makes me sound crazy then let me go on to say that this image I had of myself was that of my personality, and not so much that I thought that was what people actually saw. But to me, this perception was so powerful that when I looked at myself in the mirror, sometimes still even to this day, I’m shocked by the person that stares back at me. I’m taken aback by just “how disabled” I look and that this is how people actually see me. Involuntarily, I usually straighten up my terrible posture and elongate my O.I.-riddled-lack-of-a-neck. Sometimes I find my reflection so amusing I sit there for far too long, continuously making myself laugh by making myself look more distorted than I actually am. Eventually though this goes away, and I get used to the person staring back at me, actually appreciating her uniqueness. The phrase, “it could be worse” often comes to mind and then I start to feel guilty about not always being positive about my physical appearance because yes, it could be worse but this is what I have, and I remind myself that it’s time to get on with my day. 

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