by Erin Hawley | Courtesy of New York Times
Social media and the internet changed things for me. I was able to connect with other disabled individuals and see how they felt about their identity. In college, I read every book I could on feminism, which led me to books and articles on the disability rights movement. I found communities online where there were heated and engaging conversations about what it means to have a disability in a world that isn’t built with us in mind. That’s when I proudly labeled myself disabled.
There are certain symptoms of my disabilities that I have difficulty navigating: the pain, the anxiety, and breathing problems. But would I change who I am — would I take away my disability? No. Being disabled is too linked to my humanity, to my empathy, and my strength. It dictates my relationships with others. What I’ve experienced in life is a story worth telling, and a road worth following, despite how society tries to tell us otherwise. I would proudly live this life again if I could.