When I started writing my blog 4 1/2 years ago, I had made a promise to myself that I would never just become ONLY a disability writer. Every now and then though, something happens that makes me go:
I was at the Country Radio Seminar this week, which is pretty much just a giant 3-day concert with educational sessions for people in the music industry. It’s pretty awesome. I’ve been 2 years in a row now and it’s one of the only times each year that emerging people (like myself) in the music promotions world get to be in a room full of major industry leaders and big name artists, as well as emerging artists.
Anyway, there are people from all over the country that come to attend this event. I was hanging out in the lobby of the hotel that this event was held, when an older guy in full western gear came up to talk to me. He was friendly and everything… but, he did something that really just made me think… He handed me his CD and said that I “really needed to hear track #3. I would really like it.” I thanked him and told him I would check it out. When I looked, I was quite honestly pretty horrified by the title of this track. It was called “Heal Me”. I have sat here for the past 2 days trying to articulate WHY this bothered me so much. I think I figured out why…
I had been aware of the fact that this man had been staring at me for several minutes already and I was “fake texting” so maybe he’d just stop staring at me. He eventually came over and in the 2 minutes that I allowed myself to be in a conversation with this guy, all he knew was that I promote local artists in Nashville, my name is Lindsey and that I am in a wheelchair. That’s it. Keep in mind, I paid quite a bit of money just to attend this conference and they aren’t exactly kicking me out, so maybe I am legitimately in this business just like everyone else there. In those 2 minutes (or maybe several minutes, if you count the amount of time he had been staring at me), this guy had decided that my life needed “fixing”. Yes, I was there by myself, but that is because I am a INDEPENDENT freelance entertainment journalist who owns my own company… I wasn’t there by myself because I didn’t have friends or got ditched. I was there alone because I care about MY career in the entertainment industry and this event is always an awesome opportunity to connect with new people.
I am still bothered by the entire interaction that I had with this man, because in a matter of just a few minutes (and without knowing really anything about me, other than my outward appearance), he made a bold assumption that I was broken in some way. I have said this many, many times in recent years. DIFFERENT ISN’T BAD. It’s just different. This guy didn’t know anything about me as a person and he judged me. I realize now that this is part of what is wrong with the world. People somehow think that we owe it to them to explain everything about ourselves to them without gaining trust. We think that it’s okay to just assume something about someone and that it somehow makes it truth. We don’t bother getting to know someone in a meaningful way over time. We talk about the immediate things we see on the outside (because that’s human nature and our way of connecting) but we don’t think about bigger picture. We don’t think before we speak, act before we understand and we react without thinking about how the other person feels. Sometimes, we really just need to stop pushing our personal agendas and personal assumptions on people and just need to find a way to earn their trust. We need to show compassion before we open our mouths and say something insulting or hurtful… We need insight and you don’t get insight from being close-minded…. and for the love of humanity, we really just need to learn how to embrace our differences and coexist in a loving, non-judgemental way.
You see, this man saw me as broken. He doesn’t realize that I have faced life challenges but I have overcome them and I’m still here. He saw me as a broken female in a wheelchair. He didn’t see me as the woman who just accomplished a major personal goal this year. He didn’t see me as a human being who was there following my passion who was there to learn and grow just like everyone else there. He didn’t realize that I think my life is actually pretty great. He didn’t realize any of this because he didn’t want to open his mind up so he could see that there is so much more to me and my story than just what he could see physically in a span of just a few minutes. He didn’t bother to learn that I have an amazing husband who loves and supports me, food in my stomach, a roof over my head, the ability to be following my passion without the worry of major financial burdens, and a personal story that God designed so beautifully that it can only be explained by saying that it is just “meant to be”… I have it better than a lot of people. It’s not bragging. It’s just the truth and it’s the reason I have always made a point to help others whenever I can… because it’s what I am supposed to do. It’s what I was MEANT to do. I am a survivor. I’m not broken. I am imperfectly perfect because I was MEANT TO BE something unique in this world. While I am SO much more than just a girl in a wheelchair, trying to “fix” me would change who I am as a person, which would be taking away something that I have always prided myself in being… compassionate… Without my life circumstances, I wouldn’t have a unique way to connect with people on a deep and meaningful level. Without my “brokenness”, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate triumphs.
Learn my journey, my passion and who I truly am. Please stop trying to “heal” me just because you can’t see or understand my full story. Take time to listen to each of my chapters before you assume you know my book based off of my cover. You might just miss the most important part if you don’t.