The disability world is definitely no place people are lining to get into. You regretfully end up there, whether you’re born with a disability or somehow acquire it later in life. It’s a place most able-bodied individuals feel overwhelmingly uncomfortable.
This is why I feel like I have a lot in common with Rodney Dangerfield’s character in Caddyshack – Al Czverik – the quintessential story of a man trying to break into “society;” the upper-crusters if you will. In the movie he finally makes enough money to join a prestigious country club, but the snobs there aren’t having it, and they fight tooth and nail to get him kicked out
After my accident and going back to high school, I was totally channeling Al Cverik’s lousy country club experience. In the movie, he eventually does so many crazy things and hates the people of the country club so much that he gets kicked out. And while he’s disappointed at first, he eventually realizes it’s not a bad thing at all to not be accepted, or even liked by these individuals. I really wish I had emulated his hi-jinx in high school. I only got the shutting out part.
In fact, it’s a good thing to not be welcome. No false illusions or fakery. When you have a disability, you feel like Al a lot; so many places don’t want us there. It’s like we’re wandering gypsies in Stepford, USA, with no place to belong except with own people, wherever that is. You just can’t force people to get comfortable around us. This all comes in time, but we all know how some people just can’t be changed.
I think it’s important for all people with disabilities to remember this. I sometimes like to think that if I’m nice enough to people, that will be all that’s required to change even the most stubborn person out there uncomfortable around people disabilities, but sometimes it’s a lost cause. Sometimes the battle isn’t worth it.
It’s a better use of time instead to focus on liking yourself and your current life experiences, and not trying to fit into some mold you’re not going to like anyways (trust me I’ve been there). When you have a disability, sure we’re not automatically card carrying members of the prestigious country club world, but that club is totally overrated anyways.
That’s the beauty of having a disability – we get to march to our own tune. We don’t have to fit in, and trying to do so is too difficult anyways. All you need to focus on at the end of the day is your happiness. If you have that, the country club is a long forgotten memory.
Do you feel like you have to fight to fit in?