I'll be the first to admit that there are quite a few misconceptions about people with disabilities floating around out there. I suppose it comes with the territory. Maybe it's the fact that I'm so strong-willed, but I always love an opportunity to squelch those evil misconceptions once and for all. Have a question? I'd love to hear it, so feel free to email me (mellow1422 [at] aol) or ask me on Facebook or Twitter, friends! Today's question is...
What do you think is the biggest misconception about people with disabilities?
Oh, this is an easy one -- almost too easy. There's an evil little rumor going around that people with disabilities are homebound, unable to ever go outside and see the light of day. And even worse, if they do get out and about, they are dependent on other people. Dependent. I've always hated that word. In fact, it makes me cringe more and more as the years go by. Let me explain, friends...
As I've mentioned before, when my father died, it was as if the issues of my disability and independence became front-and-center in my life. I felt a renewed energy to become more independent, almost as if his death signaled the beginning of adulthood for me. With all those hospital years behind me-- when recovering from the latest surgery took up most of my time -- I finally had the chance to move on to the next stage of my life. Adulthood. It was a sweet-sounding word. The bells of adulthood were chiming, and I wasn't about to let a little disability stop me from living. All I wanted to do was jump in head-first.
Enter some little red and white buses. They're part of my hometown's accessible transportation system. They're small but mighty, just like me. And they had everything to do with my newfound independence. I started using them a few years ago, and my life has grown by leaps and bounds ever since. It's almost like a whole new world has opened up to me - a world that I could finally control. With a simple phone call to schedule a ride, I could live life at my own pace. It felt so unbelieveably freeing to begin tearing down those disability barriers that once stood as tall as the Empire State Building to me.
From that first ride, I've gone all over the place, from the library to restaurants to the post office. Most people never think twice about doing their weekly grocery shopping. The most rewarding part, though? I do it all on my own. I don't have to have my mother drive me there - and I also don't have her yelling at me to hurry up! With each new trip, I'm feeling my independent self blossom. Little by little, I'm growing into the adult I want to be.
Granted, it's taken me a bit longer than my peers. But that's not really the point. The point is that it's happening. For the first time. I feel like I'm living. And it's one of the most incredible feelings in the world.
[Photos via Le Love]