By: Grace Trumpower, EQUIP Leader
Here at Able South Carolina, we would like to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s day. The time has come to celebrate the love in our lives; the love, we have for our family, friends, and significant others is something beautiful that we need to appreciate. But sometimes our hearts are so full of love for others that we might forget to love ourselves, and people with disabilities who struggle with internalized ableism might have difficulty reminding themselves just how great they are. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are some tips regarding radical self-love for people with disabilities!
1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
No two people are the same. Even people with the same disability progress in different ways and over different times. You might see someone with a disability accomplishing things that you want to accomplish, such as getting a job, living independently, or starting a family of their own. You might be upset or even a little jealous, but you don’t need to be. You will accomplish your goals when you are ready, and you can achieve anything you want in life! Life is not a race, and just because something hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean that it will never happen. Always keep working towards new goals and remember- you can do it!
2. Celebrate your strengths.
Helen Keller, a disability rights activist and feminist who was deaf-blind, once famously said, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” No matter what your disability is, and no matter your circumstances, you can contribute great things to your community and the world around you! Maybe you have a learning disability and you struggle academically. Maybe you have a physical disability that makes it hard for you to participate in games and sports. Instead of letting what you can’t do get you down, try to celebrate all of the great things that you CAN do! You can be a great friend, a talented musician, or a skilled artist. We all have talents
The truth is that sometimes life with a disability can be hard; sometimes it is a real struggle. The good news is that you are not alone! If you struggle with a specific task or a specific aspect of your disability, ask someone in your support system for her help. Your support system consists of everyone who wants to see you succeed; your parents, teachers, aides, co-workers, and friends are all part of your support system! They want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask. Everyone needs help sometimes, and asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of!
4. Keep in mind that disability is natural.
Sometimes having a disability can make young people feel unlike their peers, which can be very isolating and othering. However, these negative thoughts are not based in reality. Disability does not make you an alien; disability is normal and natural. People with disabilities have existed throughout history, and we always will exist. Harriet Tubman, Isaac Newton, and Leonardo da Vinci were all (very cool and successful) people with disabilities. Disability is a part of human diversity, and diversity has a wonderful, positive effect on society
As a person with a disability, it is important to remember that, first and foremost, you are a person. You have dreams, hopes, aspirations, likes, and dislikes, just like everyone else. Imagine that you are a pizza. Your disability is a piece of that pizza, and the other pieces are things like your personality, your sense of humor, and your favorite things. There are a lot of things that make you who you are- disability is just one of them- and there is a lot about you to love!