Today, the 3rd of December is, International Disabilities Day otherwise known as the International Day of Persons With Disabilities. This day was initially set up in 1992 by the UN.
The day is aimed at raising awareness of disability and breaking down the barriers that society forge between itself and people with disabilities.
This year the UN are focusing on raising the profile of invisible disabilities, promoting awareness and inclusion for persons with disabilities and making cities more accessible.
I have of course done many videos on my YouTube channel and blogs covering topics on inclusion, awareness and invisible disabilities which you can view on the playlist below.
What I wanted to talk to you all today is the ten rules I live by as someone who lives with sight loss and a rare congenital medical condition that is in itself invisible. You can’t always see it, but that doesn’t make it any more ore less valid.
These are not stolid rules, merely little things that get me through, motivate me to keep going and remind me to stay positive.
So, here they are.
Number One: You Come Before Your Disability
In life people can often dub someone as a ‘disabled person,’ ‘blind girl,’ ‘wheelchair user’ and so on. The emphasis is always placed on their disability as the predominant labelling factor about them. But, let me tell you this you come first, not your disability.
I am Emily, before I’m visually impaired, I’m a writer before my sight loss, I’m a believer in peace before my disability. I matter as a sentient being with my own life and thoughts before my disability comes into the equation.
Always remember that your disability doesn’t label or categories you and remind others of that too.
2. Try Before You Give Up
Even though your disability may mean that things are harder to achieve that doesn’t mean that you should give up on your goals. I didn’t give up my dream of going to University and now I’m a studying for a Masters Degree. I didn’t give up on my dream of becoming a writer just because it was more difficult to write by hand, now I’m a blogger and a journalist.
In life, you must try to do the things you love, if your that passionate about it than your passion is a key ingredient to help you achieve your goal.
You may need more help and time to get there, but its worth it in the end.
3. Educate The People Who Misunderstand Disability
Never let anyone treat you unfairly just because you have a disability. Don’t allow people to treat you like a second class citizen or to ignore you as if you weren’t there.
You are a part of the world and your disability doesn’t alter this fact.
As a disabled person, you partly owe it to yourself and your fellow disabled peers to educate the people who make mistakes about disability or who have misconceptions about what it means to be disabled.
Educate them when they are going wrong, steer them in the right direction, open the conversation and be positive. Let the feel like they can ask questions to avoid future situation arising.
In society one of the things that needs to happen to counteract hate, misunderstanding and awkwardness is conversation and that goes for all of us.
Talk to one and other and learn from what we have to say.
4. Don’t Doubt Yourself
You are capable of more than you may think, don’t doubt that there might be a hidden ability or talent inside you just waiting to be let loose to flourish.
Doctors told my parents I’d never be able to live a normal life, yet i consider my life to be relatively normal if not wonderful.
If you think you can do it, don’t stop until you’ve done it.
5. Learn To Embrace Your Disability and To Love Yourself
Embracing your disability is key if you want to live a happy life in spite of disability.
Disability should be treated like a person, you may not fall in love with it or want to be its best friend and hold hands and dance around the metaphorical campfire. Yet, you should learn to walk side by side with it and accept it for what it is.
Disability is a part of you and once you come to embrace and accept that, you’re life will become a much happier place I can assure you of that.
Before I accepted my disability I wasn’t happy, I become anorexic in a bid to gain control and block out how I truly felt. I hated who I was, I wanted to be an ‘normal’ girl. After a number of years I started to write and to study with a determination to advance my education. Then in 2012 I went to University, got a guide dog and I realised that there is no such thing as normal and that I should embrace who I was just lime my friends and peers did.
Embrace your disability and you will in turn learn to love yourself
6. Don’t Dwell On The ‘What If’s’
You may say ‘what if I was born fully sighted,’ or ‘what if I’d never had that car accident.’ But, you can’t live in the past, you can’t utter ‘what if’s’ or dwell on old dreams and your past life. You’re life is a book and to get to the next chapter you must keep going, otherwise you will never reach your destination.
Focus on your new life, make new dreams and goals and pack the past up in a little box and store it neatly aware in the corner of your mind. Treat it as an album of memories, take what you can, salvage the good and move on into your next chapter.
7. Make Life Easier For Yourself
Ask for help when you need it, get the support your entitled to. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and let people in.
At the end of the day we all need help from time to time. Someone may need your help to write a CV or when they are going through a rough patch. Just like you might need help at some stage in your life.
Making life easier for yourself is not giving up or showing weakness. It’s merely acknowledging where you can improve and how to get to a better place in your life.
8. Don’t Let Society Tell You What You Can Do or What You Are Going To Be
Only you decide what you will do and who you will become. No one should decide that for you, your destiny is yours to make and you are the one who must choose the path to embark on.
Never live in somebody else design, you make your own.
9. You Deserve To Be Happy
You, yes you, deserve to be happy, never forget that. No matter what your background is, everyone deserves happiness.
10. You’re Disability Doesn’t Define You.
You’re disability is but one layer of your being, you add layers as you go, a layer when you find a new hobby, a layer when you decide you’re beliefs, a layer when you have children or get married, a layer when you understand your sexuality. Disability is not the only defining factor about a person, its just one little slice of you.
So, don’t let anyone say otherwise.
So, I really hope this blog helped you today. Let me know in the comments if you have any rules that you live by.
And I will see you all next time!
And remember, be you, because you’re doing a great job!