5 ways disabled people aren’t so different from you

5 ways disabled people aren’t so different from you

1. We are human

This one is very straightforward and it’s sad that I have to remind people that disabled people are people, too. If you’re looking for one commonality between you and disabled person, look no further. This obvious yet needed reminder can bring you back from thinking disabled people are from a different planet than you. We’re all made up of the same beautiful cosmic dust and it’s a wondrous thing that we all have in common.

2. We have hobbies & passions

Despite the common misconception that disabled people just exist to chill with their family and be complacent due to our inability to be as physically able as you might be, I have news for you. Ability does not equal your worth. Being passionate or enjoying life does not require any physical ability. It requires a lust for life and experiencing new things, however that looks for you; disability or not. My passions/hobbies are coffee, trying new foods, writing, advocating, shopping, fashion, makeup, human rights, entrepreneurship, going to the beach, traveling, a fancy cocktail on a rooftop, and poetry. I bet whoever you are reading this right now, we have at least ONE thing in common. Oohhh look, a disabled and an abled having something in common.. who knew that was a thing?

3. We party, too

Now, not everyone, disability or not, likes to get buzzed (blacked out in the club). But, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who does like to hit the clubs with my friends. People seem to be shocked to find out I go out to clubs and get down, like many people in my age group. I think this goes back to the “disabled people don’t leave their house” misconception. If you’re a little more progressive than carrying that thought about disabled people, maybe you wouldn’t be shocked to see us in a grocery story or the mall with our parents. Surely, seeing us at the club without a family member is absolute culture shock for some. It’s sad that society doesn’t expect me to have a social life. Hopefully after reading this, next time you see a disabled person in a club, you’re prepared.

4. We have friends

I’ve briefly mentioned this. Because of my bad bitch personality, I don’t encounter many ableist interactions in public because I cut that shit off at the seams. But, every now and again, a stranger will approach my friend and I in this disgustingly condescending and cringy demeanor, “AWW ARE YOU TWO SISTERS?” This comment swipes my sanity right out of me with the claws of a wild beast that’s blood hungry and replaces it with fiery, bitchy Alex. Usually, I keep my mouth shut because sometimes it’s just not worth it. Other times I’ll ask them why they think we’re sisters and I’ll explain that by them assuming I’m out with a family member (despite this friend having zero resemblance to me) they are perpetuating disability stigmas. They instantly understand where I’m coming from and the world is a little less stigmatizing of disabled people. Phew. 

5. We love 

A fundamental part of being human is the need to love and be loved. Love is a complex human emotion that inevitably brings us together in this amazingly complex universe, on this little pea of a planet in the cosmos. Against all odds, we reach out to one another to form a human connection that we all hold near and dear to us. Love does not discriminate on your ability, or any “difference” for that matter. Disabled people love and are loved. We engage in romantic relationships, we have family and friends we love, and we are loved.

I hope these 5 things can help you realize that disabled people aren’t that different from what you might have thought before reading this. Understanding, an open mind, and the willingness to learn can aide in the mission to understand disability. We aren’t so different than non-disabled people even though the way we live and accomplish tasks can look a little different. Regardless if you need your butt wiped, need extra sauce to swallow your food without choking, or need to charge your phone AND wheelchair at night, we all have one fundamental thing in common: the need for human connection.