CW: Ableism 

Embracing yourself has never been a great skill of mine. Less than a year ago, I was unsure if I should run for the position of MSA Disabilities & Carers Office Bearer because the thought referring to myself as disabled to a whole lot of people made me uncomfortable for reasons that I could not quite pinpoint. 

The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that maybe it has got something to do with how my interactions in the world have changed since I have become disabled. It is a challenge to embrace yourself in a world that actively not only tells you that you aren’t wanted but shows you. It’s hard to feel welcome when you literally can’t get in the building or into a room. I will never not be amazed at the people who feel it is appropriate to speak slowly using heavily enunciated words when they see that I have an accessible room and seem deeply offended and confused when I do the same thing back to them.

The truth is I could have written an entire piece about all the ignorant comments that have been made, about the ones that made me stare at people in disbelief, the ones that made me cry, and the ones that I laughed at with friends. Unfortunately, I don’t see the ignorant comments stopping anytime soon, so then the question is how do you embrace yourself in a world that doesn’t do the same?

Ultimately, you have to do what works for you and sometimes it is just about getting through the day. For me it is still a work in progress, and I think always will be but I’m getting closer. 

A big part of embracing myself has come from advocacy and building community. There will always be places in the world that do embrace and support you. I want to do what I can to create those places and hold others accountable to catch up. I figured I would take my experiences of the ridiculous crap that has been said to me and use it to educate people. 

It’s not perfect but it helps to know there are others that are going through the same thing and who are working to make things a bit easier.

Charlotte Sutton

The author Charlotte Sutton

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