Be Mindful, A Disability Is Not An Inability

Be Mindful, A Disability Is Not An Inability

Just because someone has different limits than you, doesn’t mean that they are unable.
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All my life, I have heard that people who have disabilities are limited. Whether or not it was limitations physically, or to what jobs they could or could not do, it has always seemed that there has been a certain discomfort around those who have disabilities. What we forget to remember, however, is how to differentiate the person from the disability.

Too often, I hear “the disabled” or “the handicapped,” when in reality, a person who has physical or mental disabilities is simply just that; a person.

I know what you’re thinking, who cares how I refer to a person who uses a wheelchair? What does language have to do with it? Quite to the contrary, language actually has a lot to do with it. Language is how we shape our beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. The words we choose to use are powerful, and once we say them, there’s no taking them back.

So, it’s important that we are not only mindful of the words that we use, but that we are also educated on the meanings behind them and the appropriate manners to which we should use them in.

This concept, also referred to as Person First Language, was brought to my attention when I took a class about how to program events towards diverse populations, which include people who have disabilities. By arranging our words in this manner, we allow not only others but also ourselves to see a person with disabilities as more similar than different.

That being said, disabilities do not discriminate. In fact, people with disabilities make up not only the largest but also the most inclusive and diverse minority group. They can affect all people despite their race, age, socioeconomic status, gender, or religion. On the other hand, we need to make sure we are referring to those without disabilities correctly as well. A child without disabilities is not “normal”, that creates the divide between what is normal and what isn’t by society’s standards.

Having a disability is not a problem, and should not be seen as an inconvenience. A disability is a need and should be seen as such. Some people need to wear glasses when they read, others need a wheelchair in order to get around.

Commonly in schools and other institutions, people who have disabilities, both cognitive and physical, are segregated off from the rest of the group. While some might argue that this is the best option, I actually disagree. By doing this, we are not only doing them a disservice but ourselves as well.

People with disabilities are not monsters, they are not weird; they are people who we can learn from. By alienating them, not only are we reinforcing the idea that they are different than the rest of us, but we ourselves believe that being around people with disabilities is something that should be an uncomfortable experience, and that’s not the case at all.

Like I previously stated, disabilities can affect anyone. Approximately one in five people in the U.S. have a disability. These people are not separate from us; they are our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, co-workers and classmates. They are people just like us.

So please, next time you find yourself in a discussion with or about someone who has a disability, be empathetic, kind, and use Person First Language.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.
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“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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How Growing Up In A Culturally Diverse Environment Changed Me

We are all human.

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I can proudly say that I am from Montgomery County, Maryland, more specifically from the city of Gaithersburg. According to a 2018 study by WalletHub, three of the top 10 culturally diverse cities in the United States are located in Montgomery County. Those cities include Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Silver Spring.

I have lived in Montgomery County ever since the day I was born. Growing up in such a culturally and economically diverse area has educated me with the value of accepting differences. Since I was exposed to an assortment of cultures at such a young age, I hardly ever noticed differences among my peers and I. The everyday exposure to various cultures taught me to embrace diversity and look beyond appearances such as the color of someone's skin. I was able to open my eyes to other ideas, lifestyles, and backgrounds.

Ever since I was a child, I was not only taught to welcome different cultures and ethnic groups, but I was always surrounded by them. From my elementary to high school years, every classroom was filled with racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Coming from someone apart of the Caucasian race, I was often the minority in school. Not everyone is as fortunate to experience such a multicultural society.

Since being from Montgomery County, I have grown up as a person with an open mind and strong values. Diversity has not only taught me to be more mindful but has also helped me become more of a respectful person. Learning about other cultures and backgrounds is essential to help societies strive, but experiencing it firsthand is something that no one can teach you.

After being in countless culturally diverse situations, I have been provided with many lifelong advantages. I was taught to be inclusive, fair, and understanding. I am able to be comfortable and accepting of all cultures and religions. After growing up in such a culturally diverse environment, I now develop culture shock when I'm not surrounded by diversity.

Our world is filled with numerous different kinds of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Being raised in a diverse environment has prepared me for what the real world looks like and taught me exactly what equality means. As I was growing up, I was always taught to be nonjudgemental of others and to embrace all individuals for who they are.

Diversity molds our identities. Every individual is unique, but each of us shares at least one trait — we are all human. Who would rather experience a homogeneous society, when they could constantly be learning about other cultures and building diverse relationships? When growing up, I never realized how impacted and truly thankful I would be to of had the opportunities to experience diversity each day. So here is a long overdue thank you to my parents for choosing to raise me in such an incredibly diverse place all of my life.

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