I am a Person First.

November 5, 2007 at 6:57 pm (blogging, for a cause, helpful tips, myself & I, opinions, rambling, real life, reflecting, resources, story telling, worries/concerns)

We are all guilty of stereotyping someone based on how they dress, look, or act. We label them based on what we see. Most people would describe me as “that girl with the bone thing”.

Since there were so many girls in my class in grade 8, to differentiate between all the other girls who shared the same name as me. “Oh, she’s the one who’s always in the hospital; you know, the gimpy one?” where things that commonly came back to me thanks to word of mouth from my friends.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was stereotyping me. At the time, I just felt like crap because that was the label I had earned in middle school, and I knew that it would follow me throughout high school. That’s how everybody would remember me. I once wrote about the things my classmates commented in my yearbooks throughout middle school. Luckily, yearbook comments throughout high school weren’t as “disability oriented” as they were in middle school. I had worked hard to make people know the real me, not just see me as “the girl with a disability”. I worked hard to let my personality and other traits shine through the disability, and it did pay off.

Like I’ve mentioned before, you do need a support group. I believe that you need a support group for everything; as they are the people who will pick you up when you’re down and know you for you. They won’t describe you as “a person with a disability”, but as a person they like.

I have my family and friends to thank for me being successful in pushing my disability to the back burner. By the end of high school, I was able to have people say “Ya, I know her. She’s really nice” instead of “Oh ya, that girl with the disability”. It was empowering.

Unfortunately, it was also short lived. I don’t exactly have a label as “someone with a disability” in college, but I do lack that circle of friends that was my daily support group. Truthfully, it took me a lot of hard work to become comfortable in my high school atmosphere, but high school only lasted 4 years. Before I knew it, it was over and I was back to square one. It took me a year in middle school to make new friends; but likely those people were with me in high school. None of them are with me now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me a year to make new friends here at college.

At least the college atmosphere doesn’t focus on labeling someone based on race, disability, or gender. Yes, they still do the “oh she’s popular”, or  “she’s weird” labeling; but it doesn’t focus on my disability (unless I am literally weird because of my disability).

Recently, I found out about a group called People First, an organization formed because some of the people in the communities felt as if they were not considered people first. They felt as if they were talked to, about, and treated according to the disabilities they were labeled with. Their vision is that they wish everybody in the community was treated equally, regardless of mental or medical disability.

I think every community needs a group like this; a group that will educate them on how everybody is equal and we really don’t need labels. What do we even need labels for? Why can’t we just describe people by their positive traits, such as their amazing personality or interesting skills?

I suppose we put labels on people to make things easier. It is easier to label a group of people then to think of them as individuals with different personalities, morals, goals and achievements. But it’s wrong. Who wants to be known as a label? If you have a disability of any sorts, than you probably know what I am talking about. The feeling sucks. All you really want is to be known as you, not as your disability.

So here is an idea for everybody; let’s put people first and labels last.

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1 Comment

  1. Bennie said,

    That’s a great group and a perfect name. BTW, I met a young lady that reminded me so much of you this past weekend. check in at our blog over the next couple of days. I’m going to “introduce” her to our blogosphere.

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