If you asked me, “What’s it like to be different?” or “When did you know you were different?“…I might respond in one of three ways:
- “I’m not different. I’ve never seen myself as different.” (I shared more on this perspective last year.)
- “What do you mean? Aren’t we all different? Because God made each of us unique.“
- “Um, right now. Thanks for pointing it out.“
Of course, if I answered #3, I would be saying it with a smile. Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, for whatever reason, and you are allowed to laugh with me. It really is the hardest thing to explain, but I do not see the disability I was born with.
Do I have this perspective because I was born with Arthrogryposis?
Would I give you another answer if I suddenly found myself disabled later in life?
How did (and does) my family life and community of friends shape my view?
It can’t be one simple answer. Lots of experiences, interactions with others, and internal beliefs shape the way I see myself and the way I hope you will see me.
There is a big contrast between knowing something deep down and feeling something on occasion.
What I know is, “I’m normal.” But there have been moments when I felt different.
Several stories come to mind and I will be sharing them over the next few weeks. I can see what caused a temporary shift in my perspective. Whether I felt out of place, misunderstood, or simply that the other person didn’t let me have a voice, I know we can relate to the deeper questions.
Am I given a chance? Accepted? Loved as the me you see and the me I know?
Our answers don’t always align. We have to take the time to listen AS we love. Then we can gain deeper understandings and more compassion for each other.
For further reading, continue to the next story: When I Felt Different, part two.