June 29th, 2014
Soooo as my teammate and I were rushing off the plane and pushing our basketball chairs as fast as we could trying to catch an earlier bus back to campus this older guy stops walking, and after staring at me for a bit with this Debbie-downer kind of look on his face, he tries to talk to me while I’m in the middle of trying to tell my other teammate where we are going. I had noticed him hovering out of the corner of my eye and already knew what kind of thing he was going to say because I have had these situations happen to me so many times…He just cuts in and says ”l used to be in one of those (a wheelchair).” and I’m super annoyed but trying to be nice and say ”oh that’s cool 🙂 ” But I was in a really big hurry and I went right back to trying to figure out where my teammate and I were supposed to go.
But he kept standing there just staring at me…with that same sad look. So I finally turn and look at him, and he said “…I sympathize with you…’’in a sad voice) I was so beyond annoyed at that moment and I literally snarled at him as I raised my voice and said ”Don’t, I LOVE IT! Thanks though.” and then I turned and pushed away. :p It was really crazy…It really felt like my lip actually curled up into the craziest snarl…
I get that he was trying to be nice, but seriously, when he approached me I was laughing, smiling and just trying to figure out where the heck we were supposed to go to catch the bus. And on top of that, I am wearing a USA wheelchair basketball t-shirt, pushing a basketball chair, and clearly, I was doing perfectly fine. Why would you try and bring me down like that?
That’s one of the biggest things that made adjusting to and accepting my new life in a wheelchair so hard to do. It always felt like society was telling me that being in a wheelchair was some horrible life to have to live. But it’s not, and it doesn’t have to be.
I remember when I was getting ready to move to Illinois to start my first year at the University of Illinois to play wheelchair basketball and everyone around me was telling me that it will be a really good experience because I will be able to relate to everyone because we would all be going through the same things.
And I thought that everyone in wheelchairs cried all the time and wished that they could walk…because that is what I did. But I found out verrrry quickly that is not how it is at all. They are all just living life like everyone else. I was pretty shocked…and that’s because I didn’t really know anyone else in a wheelchair where I lived. But by moving Illinois and playing wheelchair basketball I was able to be surrounded by so many others also in wheelchairs just like me. They were funny, outgoing, and athletic and they really didn’t let anything stop them. And they did not cry all of the time. Because being in a wheelchair does not have to be a sad thing.
I can understand where the guy was coming from…I can understand that his eyes have not been opened and he is still trapped in what society says is the only way to be happy. But when I am extremely tired, have been traveling all day, and I really just don’t have the energy to deal with anything else…it can be hard when you have to constantly be that person to try and educate others to see things differently and more positively. It can be hard to not get upset when people are constantly looking at you with pity.
But I know that if it weren’t for my teammates opening my eyes and teaching me the ropes of this whole new lifestyle…I don’t know how long it would have taken me to learn that I could still be happy. They showed me that it is okay if not everything is perfect and that there will always be struggles and frustrations…but it is how you go about handling those situations that will enable you to continue on living a happy life or will hold you back and make you feel bitter and sorry for yourself. They taught me how to see past those sad looks on people’s faces and go on living my life with a smile on my face. They were my examples…and now I have to be other people’s examples as well. So I have to just keep reminding myself that. Sooooo yup there’s my story :p
(Ohhhh and by the way….we missed our bus! (here is a picture of us sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the bus station…waiting two or three more hours for the next bus.) haha and I am actually writing this story on my phone in this picture! 😛