Just because it didn’t work, does not mean you failed the capable disabled person test!
When it comes to my capabilities, I sort things into 3 categories in my mind:
1 The “I can do this with my eyes closed” list;
2 The “this is less fun and time consuming but still doable” list; and
3 The “this was a bad-bad idea that should be abandoned and never spoken of” catastrophe list.
Now contrary to popular belief, my catastrophe list is a whole lot shorter than the list of things I can do easily and those I can do if I have to. I have longs since stopped believing that these things I either cannot do or have decided not to do, are not reflections on me as a disabled person and it doesn’t make me less competent. Let’s face it, there are musicians who are completely tone-deaf, who grace us with their presence on international stages and the world seems to think they are amazing, so really my inability to do seemingly insignificant things like decorating a birthday cake or any of the things mentioned below, should not let you lose confidence in me as an independent person capable of captaining my own ship and all that.
– Applying eyeliner! I am not saying that it is not possible for a blind person to do this, but if my corneas weren’t going to rupture on their own anyway, I would have put good money on the theory that I would do it with the amount of times I poked myself in the eye with the pencil. Not to mention the fact that I could just never make it look right.
– Cooking for sighted people; I think my food tastes just fine, but at the risk of being told that I lack presentation, I just can’t see this ever happening.
– Take my dog to a park alone; Generally, I don’t mind getting lost, but the idea of being lost in a big open area with no landmarks I could even hope to use to find my way to the entrance does not fill me with enthusiasm to try it.
Eating Chinees food with chopsticks; I tried this once with sushi and I basically just managed to separate my food into 1000 particles and made my sister laugh so hard she nearly drank her wine twice… once through her mouth and then through her nose!
Dancing in public; As a child, I competed in acrobatics, but that was choreographed and planned out to the last pointed toe! What I’m talking about is going to a club or a party and getting your “groove on” or whatever the kids call it these days. I can hold my own when it comes to the rhythm, it is the hip shaking and arm movements and keeping it all in sync I have trouble with. I just end up feeling like a freak with too many arms and legs and I’m quite sure that I subconsciously stick my tongue out when I’m really concentrating on something … so you get the picture.
Shopping for clothes on my own; I don’t have severe trust issues or anything, but I can never go shopping with someone who doesn’t know me and who I can’t trust to tell me the absolute truth… Even if that truth is that my butt looks fat in those jeans! Let’s call it control issues then. Sure, I can touch the clothes and have an opinion on the material, but I also need to know that it looks alright and that I will be able to easily pair it with other clothes. I mean of course that super helpful sales lady is going to tell you that it looks great.
Attempting to walk without a cane or my guide dog ever again; So, in my first year at university, I decided to leave my cane at home because I didn’t feel like being laughed at and bullied. I wanted to blend in and make friends… be normal for once. Well, I did blend in… with the plants and trees and tar roads I walked and fell into. I decided then that normal for me is making use of assistive devises and later my guide dog. I think it is far more obvious that I just fell and nearly broke my nose than quickly and calmly navigating my surroundings with a cane or guide dog and who gives a shit what others think anyway. If you want to make fun of me because I am making the best of my circumstances, you are the one with a problem not me.
Admittedly some of the things listed here, have more to do with my confidence and less to do with my blindness, but the point I am trying to make is that it is okay to abandon things that aren’t working for you. Life is meant to be lived, and if you are going to stress over every single thing society dictates you should do, you won’t ever get to the fun stuff. It’s okay to ask for assistance, it’s okay to suck at doing something and even if every other person with a similar disability told you that they can do what you can’t, it’s okay to say: “screw it”. We might share a disability, but we are not the same people and if you can help it, you should not do things that make you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or anxious. If you keep doing the same thing with no success, you won’t ever find alternatives in order to get it right and quite frankly there is no rule that says that everyone must be able to do everything. Just because you are disabled, does not mean that you have to prove your worth by being superhuman.

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