I don’t know if anyone else follows a certain page featuring kids with special needs, but for the past year I’ve followed Christopher Ulmer’s mission relatively closely. I support his goal to interview these people and to share their stories and perspectives with the rest of the world as normal human beings who just want to be accepted and treated the same way. But maybe I’m feeling pessimistic today? I’ve definitely been feeling annoyed at a lot of things lately.
I would always watch each video uploaded the day it came out and try to learn what I could from what I saw. But one thing nags me right now. It just seems unrealistic that every single one of these human beings give happy-go-lucky answers, smiling about how they think about girls, friends, and their mom, and how they want to spread love and joy and appreciate everyone and all those good feels. I’m not hating on it, I think it’s great, but it starts to feel repetitive and, well… can we call out the elephant in the room and discuss more about feelings and the tough parts?
Because it’s okay to feel anger, frustration, and pain at what hand you’ve been dealt in life. It doesn’t do to focus on it and become drowned in it, but at least, speaking for myself here, there are moments, days, weeks, even months when you just have had it and you’re fed up. At those times, is it not human, all the more real of emotions, to just let yourself feel, go through it, and then try to try again? I want someone to say all this in one of his interviews, because it’s real. It’s the truth. That is what it means to be an inspiration: getting back up despite everything, not a few seconds of positive babble that downplays their experiences and has cheerful, content, beaming kids in every clip. I just feel like when all the kids appear to be of the same mold and outlook, it’s not a full or completed portrayal of the full range of human experiences. For the people who go through chronic conditions as well as the people surrounding them who help, it’s different.
To “normal”, healthy people, I would like to explain what it is exactly that chronic conditions are like. Sure, everyone goes through rough patches in life, maybe break ups, loss of job, those kinds of situations. But having a chronic illness is like having a guarantee of those things either existing 24/7, reminding you with every small thing you do like breathing, moving a couple feet downstairs, or needing to ask someone for a favor. People with chronic conditions have to wear a mental suit of armor at all times. So when I see privileged people get all worn down by something like grades or worrying about not getting a job despite a 4.0 GPA and a million extracurriculars, I can’t help but feel a little pissed off and discouraged.
It’s a bit like someone getting upset that they got distilled water instead of spring water, when so many people elsewhere have access to no water at all: there is almost little to no chance of them obtaining it. So, just to even know there is a possibility, a hope, to gain something if you work hard at it and have a bit of luck, is a huge thing by itself. What the absolutely worst circumstance is knowing that you will never get that opportunity, because it’s simply not in the cards for you.
And tonight, I’ll whine a bit and get it all out, but come tomorrow? Tomorrow, I will have no choice but to wake up and work at it again, replenishing my mental and physical attitude as best as I can. Even though you’re standing in the middle of the gym or the supermarket and feel really off and just unwell, you’re still standing there, smiling at strangers, holding up a conversation, putting on a mask to blend in with society so that you fit in as best you can. And as you steer yourself towards the car with the handicap spot, you take down the sign because you don’t feel like you deserve or want that label for yourself. Moments later, you see a tall, white dude walk out, stare at your car in its forefront spot, peer at you, and decide to continue walking. And then, ladies and gentlemen, you know once again, that you have been judged in the span of five seconds. But what options do you have, except to brush it off and continue on your day?
For so long, I felt like I had no right to complain, but I do. It’s not okay to take it out on other people, but I do have a right to feel sad or upset. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to be realistic and just call things out on what they are sometimes. After all, we DON’T live in a world that shits sunshine and rainbow farts. There is a lot of cruelty and injustice happening all the time, all you have to do is turn on the news to get that. We can’t blindly ignore it as if it were not part of our world, but we also cannot let ourselves become consumed by it. What a delicate balance and just plain fucking hard thing to do.