What Society Needs to Realize About Disabilities and Independence

Just because I am not as independent as some people with disabilities doesn’t mean I am not independent at all. I am in my 30s, and although I rely on aides and my family for care, I have found ways to remain independent and successful.

For example, I successfully maintain two jobs. I work as a freelance writer and the DEAI chairperson for the National Council of Independent Living.

As a freelance writer, I must meet deadlines for submitting pitches and work. I also spend time promoting myself and my writing. All of this requires me to manage my time wisely and keep a consistent schedule, which I do entirely independently.

In my role at NCIL, I built the committee from the ground up. I set the agenda and lead every meeting we hold. I have created policy changes within the organization and promoted diversity, equity, and accessibility inclusion in my region.

However, I don’t just work; I also maintain an active social life! I go out semi-regularly and have built a solid group of friends. I love grabbing brunch with my friends, taking day trips with the whole group, or hanging out.

Most of the time, my life doesn’t look so different than anyone else’s.
I find it frustrating how society sees people like me. Anytime people see a person with disabilities living independently, they praise that person. Yet, when these same people see someone like me who requires some assistance to complete activities of daily living, they think I enjoy being catered to or don’t want to be independent.

However, that is far from the truth.

To some, it may seem like people with disabilities pick and choose when they want to live independently. The reality is that most of us don’t get to choose that — our health conditions choose it for us.

Some days, we will have all the spoons to be independent. Other times, we don’t have the spoons and need help. That doesn’t make us less independent or mean we want the world to pamper us. We are not just lazy or entitled. Most of us feel like we can’t take the time to pamper ourselves because we are fighting society to see us the same way they see able-bodied people.

It is so exhausting.

Independence is something that, as a community, we strive for. Please don’t make us feel less than more than we already do based on what we can do by ourselves and what we can not.

I’m pleased with my established life. I know I can’t do things alone like some people may be able to, which is okay. I have accepted that.

Despite my disability, I am very independent.
Could I be more? Yeah, Will I get there? I think so. Will I ever be fully independent? Probably not. And you know what? That’s okay.

To those of us who have physical or invisible disabilities and are told we are not as independent as others in our community, know that you are independent enough just the way you are.

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