I don’t want this to turn into a politically charged discussion. But it’s impossible to ignore how terrible our current political climate has gotten in recent times. I feel like humanity has lost its way to an extent because of it. I don’t know how else to get through to another person sometimes that they really ought to care about someone other than themselves in our current political climate, especially someone who isn’t quite as well off as they are. If being on both sides of social and human services for 20+ years has taught me anything, it’s that you really ought to care about someone other than yourself, because I know I’m not too far away from being in someone else’s situation myself. I don’t think I would have turned out the same way if I didn’t have that life and work experience.

Even before Covid changed everything, there were still times where I didn’t always know what to expect as I was navigating certain social situations. So when people started getting mad at me for how I was navigating some of those situations because no one told me beforehand what to expect going into them, I’ll admit I took it hard, like why are people like this? Our society puts so much time and effort into teaching people with disabilities how to interact with the world around them. How come no one ever takes the time to teach the rest of the world how to interact with us? I never understood it. Some people would rather just stand back and watch us struggle to make our way through life in a world that continuously reminds us how so much of it was built without any consideration for our needs. And then they wonder why so many of us feel unwanted, like the rest of the world hates us. It holds so many of us back from wanting to interact with our communities in a meaningful way.

I probably shouldn’t say this part out loud, but I know I can’t be “better than” everybody else. I’ve tried. It’s just not possible. Not for me. Not for anyone. But I also don’t want to come across as a complete pushover like I’m “less than” everybody else. So I feel like my only viable option is to be “different than” everybody else. Sometimes I need to remind myself of the many ways I can be “different than” everybody else. And that’s my leverage.

It’s been said “comparison is the thief of joy,” and I’d be inclined to believe it. So many people feel an inherent need to be “better than” somebody in this world, and a lot of them feel like if they’re not able to clear whatever the lowest bar is set at in their minds, then there must be something wrong and they need to do something about it. Maybe what they need to do instead is figure out why they all feel like they have to be “better than” (fill in the blank here) to feel better about themselves and challenge what they think they know about the “less thans” and “different thans” in our society and the myths and misconceptions surrounding those groups and what they think those people are capable of.

Yes, it’s gonna be uncomfortable thinking about this stuff and talking about it out in the open and confronting our inherent biases, but these are discussions we need to have in our society. We all owe it to ourselves to put in the work to confront those inherent biases and learn to see the “less thans” and the “different thans” in our society as real people who all share the same human characteristics, the same needs and desires, who share similar hopes and dreams, who are all just trying to get by in life. This is how humanity can start to find its way again.

If you are self advocate and would like to share a blog post with us please email Laurie Coldwell at lcoldwell@sufumaine.org   

The Speaking Up For Us (SUFU) blog contains views and opinions of each individual writer. The views and opinions expressed through these channels are purely the bloggers’ own and does not reflect the opinion of SUFU as an organization or any SUFU staff member.

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