The Extra Hoop I Have to Jump Through as a Person With a Disability

As someone with cerebral palsy, I’m well aware of the stereotypes and preconceptions many people have in their head regarding disabilities. For all of my success inside and outside of the classroom, I know there are still a great number of people whose expectations I still haven’t met, or will never meet. They judge me by how I walk and assume I am “different” and thus don’t want or care about my perspective. This is a non-disabled man’s world, and people with various disabilities or differences are too often placed on the back burner.

To know me is to know I am so much more than how I walk. I have the same feelings, thoughts, and emotions as everyone else. Some days I just wish people could understand that — I wish they would give me a fair shake before they judge me. As someone with a disability, there will always be an extra hoop to jump through — the hoop of public perception. Frankly, this isn’t OK, but it’s just how it is. We are fed a lie that perfection is beauty, and “normalcy” is the goal. I will never be normal, and frankly, I’ve stopped trying to be.

There is no point in hiding my disability; it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a part of me, but it does not define me. I’m proud of who I am, and believe we must strive for a world where people of all abilities are welcomed and included. Yes, I have a disability, and so do nearly 53 million other of my fellow Americans. We belong at the table too, and we mustn’t stop until all of us are there. It might take longer to get there, we might stumble along the way, but I dream of a day where all of us are there.

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