Striving for Normalcy

I was born with physical and learning disabilities and struggled in some respects both socially and academically. I had a very hard time making friends in school and thought that there must be a reason why my classmates were able to form new friendships with one another so easily while it was so difficult for me. While I had a good stable family life at home, not having friends was something that really hurt me emotionally. Even today I still don’t have any friends and I can honestly admit that it still bothers and frustrates me to this day.
Everyone always liked to teach normal behavior and social skills and it just seemed like no matter how much effort I put into it I could never be considered “normal.” People could just tell that something was off with me and as I progressed into my teen years my idiosyncrasies were even more evident. I was talking to myself and starting to develop some tic-like behaviors.
Things came to a head when I started college at my local community college. I began to develop friendships with two classmates and another student and it was just overwhelming trying to grasp the social nuances that they understood so easily. I didn’t realize what topics were not generally acceptable to be discussed and that I was actually so desperate for friendship that I would attach myself to people who were really “toxic” friends.
Ever since then I have been friendly with others around my age but with my fear of rejection I have been more withdrawn and reserved with others. I do try to fit in but still find it to be very anxiety inducing to remain engaged socially with others. I have strived for normalcy in many ways but have come to realize that there is no such thing as “normal”.
Everyone has their quirks that make them unique individuals and I am one of those quirky persons. I do things that may not seem interesting to other people like take online classes on topics that are not always the most mainstream and wear clothes that may at times may not reflect the current styles and trends.
You may be left wondering at this point how my disabilities affect my quest for normalcy in other respects. Some ways that my disabilities impact my life include the fact that I am incapable of driving; have difficulty understanding nonverbal cues; have trouble seeing the “big picture”; and have poor spatial sense. While a few of these issues have been remediated over the years, the fact that I cannot drive and my ability to understand nonverbal cues hinders my ability to obtain desired jobs in my field and succeed in job interviews.
Do I wish that I didn’t live with disabilities? In many ways I admit that it would be great to have more independence but my disabilities have also helped to make me into a personally stronger person. I have overcome challenges that others may not have had to cope with and have found that I am capable of doing more things than I ever expected.
Now I spend my time helping other individuals with the same learning disability I have—a nonverbal learning disability—by interacting with them in Facebook groups and acting as sole administrator of a Facebook page that provides resources and support to individuals with this learning disability. I have come to realize that I can truly make an impact in the world by changing the perception of individuals with disabilities. I am a living example of a disabled person who has had their share of success stories to relate to the world.
My wish is that people with disabilities can be treated as an important segment of the population. While some disabilities are more obviously noticed than others, it should not impact the way that we treat more severely disabled individuals. I am a firm believer in disability equality as I feel that people like me should not be discriminated against when pursuing job opportunities and other opportunities in life. I think that we must come to the realization that everyone has a story to tell and the potential to do great things in life. Will everything you wish to attain come to you easily? I don’t believe so as it takes effort, perseverance, and determination to accomplish what you want in life.
Just remember that if you are disabled, it does not make you less of a person. In reality it makes you into someone who people can look up to and admire due to your resilience and personality. You may not always feel comfortable disclosing your disability to others, and that’s perfectly acceptable, but just acknowledge the fact that having a disability is something that makes you unique. Sometimes you need to let potential employers know that you have disabilities so that they can provide accommodations that will enable you to succeed in your job.
One important thing to note though is to never use your disability as an excuse for getting out of doing difficult things. I definitely have used the disability card before, but have come to realize that if I simply try doing something that has proven to be a challenge I may be able to actually do it. You may surprise yourself at how much you are capable of doing and then will see that you’re very competent at doing what you set out to do.
Striving for normalcy may appear to be a worthwhile endeavor but to reiterate my earlier point, being normal is a myth. No one is really normal as everyone has something that makes them unique. If someone tells you to try being normal, remind them that they aren’t normal themselves. It may offend them but it’s a fact of life. I feel that being perfect is not the best goal in life and embracing your imperfections is something that will make you into a better and more confident person.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. phdynamic
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 06:14:06

    I have a friend who is dealing with the same disability that you describe. She has struggled for many years to come to terms with her “being different” and still attaches herself to people who are less than wholesome. Anyhow, just thought I’d let you know you’re not alone!

    Reply

  2. clg1990
    Sep 12, 2015 @ 21:03:19

    Thanks, phdynamic! I also sometimes have attached myself to people who were not the right type to be friends with.

    Reply

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