Why Am I Here and What’s My Purpose?

Before I begin, I want to reassure that this introduction, and any following articles, will not ask you to ponder existentialism.  This article, on the other hand, is more of a critical self-reflection than an introduction.  Meaning that I want to explore with you my motives and purposes for joining The Voice Magazine as a freelance writer.

I have cerebral palsy quadriplegia.  Which means that, while I can feel my arms and legs, I cannot use them.  Hence the motorized wheelchair in the picture attached to this article.  If you just felt sorry for me, thank you for your compassion, but my personal life is wonderful.  I have a great family, wonderful opportunities, and a deep faith, a more biographical sketch can be found in an earlier edition of the Minds We Meet column.  That being said, I am now finally at a point in my life where I can be honest about being disabled.

Sometimes it sucks.

This is not because I have physical limitations, but rather from feeling invisible in the social world because of it.  Like when people don’t really listen to me because of my speech delay and making assumptions before they get to know me.  Or when pop-culture tells me I’m unlovable (Ingham, 2018).  A major pet peeve!

Then there’s the construction workers who make “accessible” bathrooms and other places I can’t get into because of my big mechanical trunk.  Let’s just say I have to plan my schedule well when it comes to personal care.

And then there’s the reason that I decided to write: courses that have seemingly every perspective except for from people with disabilities—it needs to change.

I know so many brilliant people with different ability levels that can bring new perspectives, yet, many of these brilliant individuals feel they have no voice.  It’s almost like they have become what pop culture says.  That is, miserable, alone, and self-destructive (Ingham, 2018).  One friend told me that we live in the basement of society and eat cheese and crackers compared to shrimp upstairs.  This might not be so bad, but he also said that, basically, we can only get people to come down and eat with us but not ask for help upstairs—and this is where I take issue.  This is because my own experience has taught me that if we stay persistent in asking for help we can be heard.  It’s shown by this magazine willing to help me in making the issue public.

In short, I sometimes feel like I’m watching people like me die emotionally and spiritually and it breaks my heart.  At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I feel like I was giving a scholarship in circumstances that give me the opportunity to be more than my chair and able to be “upstairs”.  Yet, after discovering invisibility syndrome, I can’t ignore the suffering my people go through even if they don’t feel like they can fix it themselves.  I have to build an elevator of awareness.  And I have to do it now!

The thing is, I can’t do it alone.  I need your help to give us a voice.  And yet I can’t do that if you don’t see me as a person.

I know that, sometimes, it won’t be easy, but I will always try to tell you the truth.  I do so in the hopes that we can change this world so that my friends feel that there is hope that they will be heard and that they can enjoy life outside the family unit or accessible summer camps.  Because that is when we will truly be able.

Ingham, E.  (2018).  Attitudes towards disability in society viewed through the lens of critical disability theory: An analysis of me before you.  Counselling Psychology Review, 33(1), 2-12.