Those of us with invisible differences and disabilities face some unique challenges. Since people can’t physically see we’re a somewhat rare variation of normal, it’s surprisingly easy to blame ourselves when we’re treated poorly. Other times, when people do know of our labels, they’ll use stigma as a way to force us into complying with their version of who and what we should be.
If you’re female, a person of color or a member of any other maligned group, you then get to deal with stigma associated with those things, too.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up to that ignorance while still living an authentic life. It also takes a lot of bravery to pursue things we ‘shouldn’t be able to do’. We spend our lives being told and shown our ‘proper places’. Women are still expected to be nurturers, dyslexics illiterate, etc.
In truth, gender, ability, skin color, and everything else we’re born with aren’t barriers to becoming who we want to be, or doing what we want to do. Unfair treatment makes it harder for us, but we all have untapped depths of power we only know about when we overcome challenges.
The below commercial from the #Femvertizing Awards put on by BlogHer got me thinking about this. (Voting’s open until the 19th, so if you’d like to take part, check it out!) Although none of the examples relate directly to the fights a lot of us have to put up, it’s still a powerful representation of the courage it takes to tackle our obstacles.
There seems to be a prevailing attitude that we can find strength and salvation from someone or something outside ourselves. In my experience, we hold our own strength within us, and that salvation will come depending on how we choose to use it.
Don’t get me wrong, no one can control every single thing that happens to them. Believe me, if I could do something to permanently cure some of my physical issues, I would in a heartbeat. We may not be able to stop some things from happening, but we do have power over our own reactions.
When we fail, we have the power to try again and again until we get the results we want or discover a better option.
That’s a type of silent, hidden strength not honored enough in today’s world. I see a huge amount of that in the disability and chronic illness communities. To cope with chronic pain and work with disabilities takes much more strength than many people realize. Sometimes, it’s hard to see in ourselves.
I had to update some paperwork with my doctor on Monday. Never fun. As I sat there, struggling to understand some of the questions and trying to make my handwriting somewhat legible, I had to take a moment to remind myself of how far I’ve come in my personal journey.
“I’ve had work published. People pay me for writing. I’ve been recognized in other ways. This is just a silly form. I’m slow, but I’ve got this.”
That bubble of frustration smoothed out, and eventually, I finished.
We each have courage, and though it’s harder to find sometimes than others, it is there for us. Those people who want to quash it don’t matter in the big picture, especially when there are others who want nothing more than to build you up.