It has always astounded me that disability is synonymous with weakness or inability; because Cameron Clapp a triple amputee is able to run a marathon like his able bodied counterparts, disabled people, climb towers, face hospital stays, surgeries, become police prosecutors, all things that can be done by the able bodied so my question is what made a tagline of weakness attach itself to the term disabled, because if we can do the same things as the able bodied, then we are not weaker; in fact we are stronger because we find a way to complete normal tasks in an environment often not designed for us, and that; that is extraordinary. We are extraordinary.
I came up with the term the 10% because I needed to name the ignorance that I face, Ignorance is not often but when it happens, it sticks and stays with you; 90% of people know that you’re capable of anything, but ignorance knocks that belief and you have to make the choice to fight against it. The truth is the last week has been one of the hardest of my life, even though the anesthetist called me a frequent flyer; it was still difficult to be sick and completely dependant on others. But even in that position, in a hospital bed I was stronger than anyone who had ever thought me to be weak, because I got through and I may have felt like it but I never gave up, or undervalued myself; the 10% they can doubt the different; but they can never take away the ability we have to fight back.
Ignorant people are those who have made the choice to not be educated about something and you cannot make them change their mindsets or become educated; all you can do is trust in the 90% and know that you are never defined by societies opinion, you are never defined by pre conception; you are defined by your reaction to these things, I could kick and scream and I could hate on the world every time someone stares, but what would that do; that would make me the same level as the 10%; however if I simply smile and look people in the eye and say hello; they are seeing me, they are witnessing kindness and maybe this will change their behaviours; maybe it won’t but either way, I have not become anything less; then what I choose to be.
Extraordinary people are not built with ease; for me being disabled, easy is not in my vocabulary but impossible isn’t either, when my friends started getting there drivers licenses I thought I would be getting mine too, I knew it was going to be a harder longer process, but I wanted it; with everything I had I wanted the experience at sixteen of sitting and gaining my learners, that did not happen; Bilateral talonavicular and subtalar fusion happened. That killed me because again, I wasn’t like everybody else and for once, I wished and hoped I could’ve been, but the 10% didn’t win because I realised that my entire life is unlike everybody else’s, as individuals we find our way, in our own time and under our own circumstances; you do not have to meet someone elses standard of growth, you are entitle to create your own – the 10% probably think I will never drive but I will, and I will have done it having met challenges that most couldn’t comprehend, just because you do not do something in the mainstream way it does not make you any less successful then your peers.
Ignorance is a ladder, because if you choose you can take the slurs, judgement and ignorance of the 10% and turn it into your ladder, to climb towards your dreams and meet your aspirations. This is what I chose to do a long time ago and disabled or not the quality should be alive in all people, it is looking everyone who stares at you in the eye smiling and saying hello. Because nothing can beat you, nothing can break you; if you fight back. It does not have to be in evident ways, it is in the small rebellions; giving kindness to all people, turning your back on stereotypes this is how we fight the 10% and I can tell you now, when I rehabilitate every single therapy session, cast change and wound check will be with the 10% driving me forward; pushing me to be kinder, do better, live more; the ignorance of the world wants to pull us back, put us back in our chairs or quiet our voices, but no matter how hard it is; scream back, pull yourself up and fight for what you want.
You do not need to be anything other then what you choose if someone knocks you down because of your dream get up because that means it is worth fighting for.
Disability is not a weakness; because although I struggle physically, I am strong mentally and that is what will push me to my limits and help manifest my successes within this world, unlike most I cannot hop into a car and start driving, my life requires planning and compromise; it always has. But so does everyones, it may not be now, it may be in the far or near future but their will come a time when you have to find a different way and if it is that boundary pushing, that fantastic, people will knock you for it or tell you that it is impossible; but they are only doing that, because they are afraid of it working, they are afraid of progress and the unknown. Show them what they’re missing.
Because I will make sure that everyone who ever thought less of me, will see what they missed. Fight against the 10%