Does It Serve Me Well?

I came across a question reading Confessing Queer. Does the culture in which I find myself serve my mind, body, and heart? The quick answer is no, but I believe the longer explanation bares elucidation.

In this case, culture refers to what we as a people believe, the standards by which we collectively judge the world around us, and what we expect from individuals. We are an industrialized, productivity-oriented, evaluation based on results society where what you can do is highly valued along with how you look. Though pluralistic, democratic principles permeate our social fabric so that even outside of government, majority rules.

Does this mindset positively impact my mind, body, or heart? I don’t produce, achieve expected results, or even do things in the usual, efficient ways. I look different, want different, and feel different.

Think about that for a minute. I live in a world that, by its nature, says I am of lesser value because I do not produce, am a failure since I need help, and take up valuable resources. On an individual level, a child raised with such negativity would not thrive nor would anyone expect it. How, then, is it any less damaging to an adult when her society believes it?

I am beginning to confront some painful realities and not liking it much. I tend to kick and scream my way through such a process. It is messy, unpleasant, and deepens my sense of isolation. But, well, moments of revelation come when they come and working through things happens without one’s convenience or comfort in mind.

The revelations are these: I will have medical issues cropping up routinely for the rest of my life because I am medically fragile. The things I want – either because I was taught to or genuinely want them – such as home, family, and avocation are not statistically likely. In fact, they are very unlikely. Finally, hard isn’t a word to describe a period of my life but a word that will describe the rest of my life.

Have I depressed you yet? That’s not my intent. My point is that I inhabit a specific reality that means certain things and I should really accept them so I can stop making myself miserable. Medical issues aren’t bad unless I buy into the idea that they are. It is possible to learn to want other things that are more likely. A hard life is not a bad life.

I spent years clearing society’s beliefs about beauty out of my head and heart. Somehow I seem to have left many ablist beliefs that do not serve me well. It’s time to do more than just decry them from the pages of this blog. It’s time to actually stop believing them.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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