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Make the difference!

Although there are still a lot of people who do not want to believe this: it’s quite easy to live without arms and legs in a first world country. I can't really think of anything that would distinguish me in any way from fellow human beings in terms of the possibilities of how I shape my life. "So, you can do everything that I can" you may want to ask now? No. Of course I can't. Just like you can’t do everything that I can.

Difference and equality

People with particularly noticeable features, just like I have, quickly come into focus. No limbs, but still enjoying life? Travelling? Driving? Love life? Professional success? How is that possible? Janis, how did you still manage that? Yes, I understand the question and, no, I still do not understand it. Despite what? Really, if there is one great thing that I envision, it would be a world where my way of life is seen as just as normal and natural as any other.

But not because I don't differ or because I can do everything with my body that people with limbs can do. In my vision of the world there are people whose equality consists in recognizing and respect their differences. Very simple.

Although, because or for that exact reason?

The fact that I move through my life so confidently and naturally is, among other things, because I had never been put in a special incapacitating status. I would always try out what I could do and how I could find my own creative way to implement it. I was naturally given the necessary help where I needed it. Exactly this mixture of recognition of my personal characteristics and trust in my abilities lay the foundation for a self-confident and thus self-determined existence. And yes, this formula for life applies to all of us. For every single person.

Fringe group and right in the middle of it

I might as well bathe in the usual stereotypes: gay, “disabled”, vegetarian, blonde and so on. The fact that I don't find myself in any of them, don't let myself get classified as either of them and actually rarely get confronted with such labels, is in my opinion due to how much I am aware that my best life is my personal responsibility. No matter which ones, I don't carry my personal characteristics in front of me, like a mantra or such thing. Not as an excuse, not as motivation, not as a weapon, not as protection.

We’re all pretty much the same when it comes to the things that drive us: we strive for inner satisfaction, for success (in the sense of the effectiveness of our actions), for being connected. At the end of the day, we strive to be loved.

It is simply because these inner drives are so alike that our outer features are not the crux of the matter. We’re allowed to be set up very differently here. We can have different possibilities and roads ahead of us. Actually, we definitely should.

I clearly see who and how I am; and based on this insight I can and want to be creating. I articulate my needs myself and don't expect others to read them off my lips. I know that the sight of me can unsettle some people at first, so I build the bridge, like when I greet them. Lo and behold, suddenly the ice breaks and the anxiety of “How do I shake hands with someone without a hand?” turn into a hearty laugh about the very human fear of contact.

Equality makes all the difference

Sure, every one of us is tempted to make strongly pronounced characteristics responsible for not doing something although we may want to, especially if those characteristics may lay some restrictions on you. Sure, some characteristics lead to social stigmata. Those I know too. Because I am not hiding. Everyone can and even may see that I have no limbs. Which is not fatal. It becomes fatal when judgments are made. When that is the reason that I am denied of doing the things I can. There’s less trust in my abilities. I do not live “less” than others, and I also do not live “despite this”. I live “differently” in the sense of “individual” - as we should all do, bearing in mind our special features that make us unique.

Living equally means that differences are seen and accepted. That it’s OK for differences to exist. That in this inequality the opportunity, potential and abundance are recognized. Therefore, show yourself to the world in all your colors, your needs, your abilities and your wishes.

Your best life can only succeed if you walk upright. For yourself and how you are.

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© 2024 Janis McDavid