Hello Nicole – July 1991

Hello Nicole, I often want to write to Access Press but I don’t because I think that what I have […]

By Nicole
Published July 10, 1991

Hello Nicole,

I often want to write to Access Press but I don’t because I think that what I have to say is not very important. I almost always hesitate to speak my mind to other people (except good friends) because I can’t get over the feeling that what I have to say doesn’t count as much as what they have to say. What do you have to say about this?

Sincerely, Say-Say-Say

Dear Say-Say-Say:

Many times I have wished to speak out on a topic and haven’t because I thought what I had to say was not important. Even when the topic is one in which I have a lot of experience and knowledge and even when it is obvious that other people in the conversation don’t have nearly as much information; I still notice myself feeling “inadequate” and hesitating to share things I have known for years.

Through my extensive experience with this feeling of inadequacy I have realized one very important thing: it may feel to me what I want to share doesn’t matter to anyone, but almost always I am wrong. We all have different kinds of wisdom to share, therefore usually, there is someone who can appreciate my (or your) own personal style of sharing; however, the vital element needed is the actual sharing.

It is easy to understand in our minds the importance of sharing, still it is difficult for us to speak through the screaming feeling of inadequacy we hold in ourselves. This is a problem many people have to deal with, but being a person with a disability makes it much more difficult because we often believe ourselves to be fundamentally “inadequate”. We are deprived of our power and personhood whenever people refuse to look at us when we pass them, or talk to us when we speak to them. These kinds of avoidance ingrain deeply in our minds a feeling of inadequacy. It is common that upon meeting a disabled person many people will automatically assume a position of superiority, they may stand before a wheelchair speaking in a loud voice and using simple language, as a mother would speak to her child. This reflects a general attitude toward disabled people, in the eyes of many we are regarded as people who remain children forever.

We have basically two choices presented to us as we live our lives with a disability. We can contentedly be dependent on others for everything and resign ourselves to living quietly with whatever they decide to give us. This would mean completely surrendering to oppression, giving up our independence and never striving for freedom or responsibility.

The other choice is to break free from these stereotypes placed on us. We should not diminish our lives in order to “make things easier” for able bodied people. For instance, in reacting to the recent cuts in Metro Mobility funding, we should say “Hey! I have a right to accessible, reasonable public transportation. My life is equally as important as yours so you must stop stealing away what meager freedom I have acquired!” We cannot simply accept or dismiss discrimination and unfair treatment.

All of us have our own unique voice, and every voice is important to hear from – no matter how talented or not you are at speaking. When we start to feel that our thoughts are not important enough to share we are in extreme danger of crippling ourselves. We have to fight against the screaming feeling of inadequacy as strongly as we would fight for our lives. -Nicole