“Ash, I don’t know if you are passionately persistent,
or stupidly stubborn”
The quote above was said to me by none other than one of my amazing professors here at Castleton University and even now, months later, it is both relevant and hysterical. It is true, I am stubborn! I won’t deny it and if one of my teachers admits it, I suppose I should too! A recent article has me reflecting on one of my personality traits that just about everyone has come to recognize in me… and love, right?
I do not walk around with the words “person with disabilities” written across my forehead. I don’t have to. Spend a few minutes with me and that may become obvious. I do not feel the need to tell the world that I’m different and that my life, at times, certainly isn’t the easiest. However, with that being said, I am absolutely a champion and a voice for my community. If you want to put me down, throw ugly words at me, give it your best shot! You may anger me in the moment, but you will not hurt me. Why, because there is nothing that you are going to think or say that I haven’t at one time or another thought or said about myself. But if you think I am going to let you think ill of the community I find myself a part of, you’ve got a war on your hands! Admittedly, I know that there is a very turbulent connection between my stubbornness, some people’s venomous words and my reluctance to ask for and accept help.
I have a very eclectic, amazing group of friends here in University. They are protective, supportive and always available for a laugh and smile. That being said, I know that I haven’t made our friendship easy for them at times. These individuals, they will walk down a hall with me when I’m in therapy. They will make sure that I don’t fall, but something that comes up weekly? Me refusing to accept a kind gesture. Let me give you an example. A few of my friends, (who are male) will open up the car door for me when I drive with them, or hold open a door when I’m going into a room and I don’t always react in a manner they deserve. I try to beat them to the door or open it for them, ha, they are faster and I almost never win.
Just last week, I stated in frustration, “You hold open the door because I’m disabled and I appreciate it, but it irritates me!”
Well these young men were not having that! “No! We’re holding the door because you’re a woman and it’s a show of respect. Your disability has nothing to do with this!”
I’m not usually at a loss for words, but they won that battle as I had no retort. I resist help because I fear that it makes me look weak. I fight against the words, “May I have your help” because I ignorantly believe that individuals will see my disability and someone who is less than. Those are my fears however, they’re not the reality and it’s unfair of me to put that on you. Thank you. Thank you for seeing Ash and not a disability. Thank you for dealing with my stubbornness and for helping me stand tall. I may not always tell you, but when I am alone, I smile knowing that you’re a part of my journey, life and I wouldn’t change it for the world!