They’re on everything and, thanks to the digital age, everyone.
I’m not talking about those sticky things that you put on your shirt at mixers that say “Hi, My name is:” I’m talking about social labels that we metaphorically stick on each other to describe and classify them.
I am not a stranger of being labelled. Throughout my life I have been labelled as many things; dancer, student, runner, friend… epileptic. The last one in that list is the one that sticks. I remember in my first year of university being introduced a little something like this: “This is Hannah, she has epilepsy” (as a side note, I cannot explain how annoying this introduction was when the person being introduced to me was a cute guy!). The thing is, I am one of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with a medical condition and yet do not know whether we deserve a label slapped across our chest reading HI! I am disabled! because the truth of the matter is that often I don’t feel that I am.
Type disabled into google and the definition is: (of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities. Technically, I could be classified as having a condition that fits the above definition, even if the limitation of my movement is only for those few minutes in which I am having a seizure. Talk to me on a good day and I will say I’m able bodied; talk to me after I have spent the night awake, worrying that a seizure might strike any minute, and I’ll say I definitely have a disability. What I’m trying to explain is that not all disabilities are visible, sometimes even to the people who actually have them…
But here lies my problem with my particular sticker. I don’t agree that being disabled means that you are dis-abled. I guess that you could say I agree with the school of thought that re-brands people identifying as having a disability as being differently-abled. But even that, I feel, has negative connotations. The whole point is that I don’t want a sticker slapped on me that says Hi! I’m different to you!
I want a sticker that says Hi! I’m unique. As are you! I was made the way I am because that what was planned for me. I may get upset about it sometimes but I can promise you that there is so much more to me than a silly label – let’s have a coffee and hash out the details!
…but that might be too long to fit on a sticker…