You know what?
I don’t like the stereotype associated with people in wheelchairs.
But it’s earned.
The wheelchair stereotype is the embodiment of the victim mentality.
A disproportionate percentage of the “chaired” population look and act pitiful. A disproportionate percentage of people in wheelchairs are whiners.
It’s okay to notice that, it’s true.
But here’s the thing – I refuse to be a victim of that stereotype.
Sure, there are people who prejudge me because I’m in a chair. But so what? That’s life. We naturally profile people (and animals) as part of our survival and self-preservation instinct. We learn from observing patterns. Of course there are exceptions, but stereotypes exist for a reason.
Instead of letting it depress me and instead of blaming the stereotype for some lost opportunities, I choose to see it as a challenge and an opportunity (it is a choice).
So I go out of my way to never look, act, or sound pitiful. I don’t whine, and I don’t play the victim. I never want to be the typical “handicapped guy.”
And that’s had positive results. When I demonstrate even just a bit of competence, independence, normalcy, humor, or positivity, people are amazed. They don’t expect it so I “stand” out.
But here’s the best part: by not allowing myself to look, act, or think like a victim, I see all the great things in life.
I don’t focus on the hard or the unfair, I revel in the magnificent!
It’s the best choice I’ve ever made.