It’s one thing to know that I’m just like you, but it’s another thing to look at me like I am.
When I look in the mirror or at somebody else in a wheelchair, the first thing that I see is the object that gets us around. It’s natural. But I don’t stop searching just because I found a pair of “legs.”
I keep searching until I find a smile. Until I find a personality. Until I find the things that make us all who we are.
The problem is that people don’t take the time to do that. They don’t realize that the inability to walk or any other struggle that somebody encounters has nothing to do with who they really are.
Those things are present every second of my life, whether I want to admit it or not. They don’t go away and present a challenge to me constantly. Sometimes, there is a black curtain over them, just teasing me with a fake reality, but there are other times when it feels like they are underlined with a yellow highlighter.
My peers see that I’m in the same classes as them and know that I do all the same work as they do, but many don’t comprehend the fact that I want to have fun just like they do and I don’t want to be a spectator.
They don’t understand that I can be a part of what everyone else is. They don’t think that I know that things are different. They don’t know that I am ready to overcome any challenge that life presents.
Because of that, my motorized wheelchair is an easy way to validate the reasons why I “can’t” be a part of the things that my peers do.
The thing is that I am not limited to what my power wheelchair can do. It’s easy for everyone, including myself, to use the accessibility aspect of things as an excuse for me not to do things, but I have learned that it’s not a real reason for that.
My peers may ask the questions that they don’t think I have an answer to and ones that they think are offensive, but aren’t. They will ask how I’m getting in the house, how my power wheelchair is getting in the house, and if I need an adult there.
I can walk up a few stairs as long as somebody supports and guides me, I have a manual wheelchair that can be carried up stairs and that I can navigate in using my legs, and I don’t need someone watching me all the time.