Written By Emily Jamar - Emily is your fairly average dog-mom, who eats way too much guacamole, and has probably already stolen your soul without you noticing. Twitter: @EmuhleeLJ
I’ve noticed lately that for someone so young, checking in at an impressionable age twenty-two, I sure have a lot to say. By nature I am a writer, and I’ve always known this. From early on, I’ve used writing as my outlet and I’ve found my voice in pages when rooms weren’t big enough. Words string together easier than sentences most of the time, and I will write even if no one reads it—which they usually won’t.
It’s not that I don’t like criticism, I actually really enjoy it. When I was in school I’d be so excited to get my papers back in English class and see what I could improve on. I love feedback, whether it’s good or bad.
That being said, there’s this nagging voice inside my head any time I’m open and honest about my thoughts. I’m sure every writer experiences this to an extent, but as a woman and a writer who happens to have a physical disability, there are some very specific realizations that come to mind every time I put words to paper.
At this point, it doesn’t matter the subject—I’m always waiting for some complete stranger to say, “You’re an inspiration.” I could be talking my love life, my work life, my home life, or what I ate for lunch, and I know without a doubt that someone would think I’m brave for doing it. No matter how hard I try to explain how “normal” I am, someone will think what I’m saying or doing is exceptional merely because I use a wheelchair.
Don’t get me wrong—inspiration isn’t bad—I’ve just never understood how my life is so inspiring compared to others who are actually doing something incredible.
I’m not immune to being inspired, either. I watch those videos of olympic athletes who swim 100 laps in 3 seconds, or those miracle diet commercials about people losing 300 pounds in a week, and I’m inspired to stop eating cake for breakfast even though I don’t need to lose the weight. I see doctors saving lives, and inventors creating the unknown, and I am thoroughly humbled, amazed, and ‘inspired.’ There are so many incredible and inspiring people out there, and they deserve all the recognition they get, but right now, I’m not one of them.
At this point in my life, I’ve barely managed to be an adult and refrain from spending all of my earnings on coffee. I’ve had strangers come up to me on the bus and tell me that I’ve made their day, and I can’t help but be confused as I contemplate if I’ve brushed my teeth that morning or not. I get that I look different from most people you know, and that to you it may be a miracle that I got out of bed since I can’t actually get out of bed by myself, but people with disabilities are typically mundane, (at least I am.) I’m just trying to make rent and get by, just like you.
I understand that for someone who has never lived with a disability, it can be hard to imagine having one. I can’t imagine being deaf, or blind, or growing up in an entirely different culture. But knowing what I know about living my own life, I know that people who are different from me are used to their narratives. No one can imagine what it’s like being in someone else’s shoes fully, but that also means that someone else’s shoes aren’t necessarily as uncomfortable as they may look to you.
I’ve still got a lot to say. I don’t doubt that my voice is important—everyone’s voice is important, and we all have important things to say. I can’t promise that I won’t have that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me all of the false assumptions people will make about me without knowing me at all, but I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep sharing my thoughts and being honest. We live in a world that is so easy to share our opinions in an instant, and this comes with much criticism and comment—it’s inevitable. Everything I write might inspire you, and this point, I’m okay with that as long as I’m still writing the truth.