Do you ever think back on some of the lessons that you learned? Simple moments, something you’ve read, a social media post, or a quote that seems to change not only your perspective in the moment but stay with you for a while? The Sitting Beauty Diaries isn’t the first blog I’ve had on this crazy blogging journey, but I will say it is the one that has helped me do a lot of reflection well, that and the pandemic, still, through this process of writing about my experiences and going after what I want for this blog and brand, I’ve connected with and/ or had the opportunity to hear some amazing people speak about issues in the disability community and their experiences. I’ve learned so much about myself, dealing with my mindset and the roller coaster ride that is living with a disability, today, I’m sharing 4 things I’ve learned from other disability advocates, content creators, and influencers since starting The Sitting Beauty Diaries.
Growing up with my disability I was used to checking magazines and television for people who looked like me, but despite the fact that I’m a millennial and social media was around during my high school years, I never thought to use it to connect with and attend events by people outside of the circle of people I already knew, The launch of my blog, one that I wanted to be more than just a hobby, had me discovering a new world online, one where I found more people from the disabled community.
As I sit here writing this, I remember the idea that I could find others who wanted to make changes for the disabled community and follow along with their stories and learn from their experiences and challenges. It seemed like such an amazing thing, and it is, but at the same time, it’s just the way of the world and possible due to social media. I’ve been on this journey for a while. I’ve already learned so much, but I’m a firm believer that we’re always learning so I still have more learning to do. That being said, there are a few things I’ve learned through social media and attending other events, lessons that I know will stick with me for a while, and things I think every person with a disability should know, and now that I’ve digressed a bit, let’s get to those tips, shall we?
4 Things I’ve Learned From Other Disability Advocates, Content Creators & Influencers Since Launching The Blog
Positivity Is Authentic: I’ve always tried to be positive even on the tough days of my disability, some days it works out, some days it doesn’t, but however, you feel about your disability that day is how you feel. A few months ago, I saw a post on Instagram and the caption actually inspired me to write this post. Louise, also known as @justawheelchairgirl on Instagram, wrote: “In our attempt to celebrate the authentic and ‘being real’ it’s like we’ve now started to outshame the ‘perfect’.People get judged for having Instagram profiles with beautiful pictures and positive vibes – as if that’s not authentic enough, that’s fake or unreal. Being positive doesn’t make you any less authentic. It just shows that you’re a strong person who’s able to see the positive despite your struggles.” To read the full caption and follow her on Instagram click here.
After reading this point, I came to the realization that people wouldn’t care about the ratio I was sharing my positive everyday moments with the challenges as long as I was authentic and stuck to my message. This first one may not seem like it would be necessary unless you were a disabled content creator too, but it reminded me that we can all learn from each other, that you can advocate for disabled rights and bring awareness your way. It was a reminder that there is no one way to do things, there is no one way to speak up and share your story that makes you less or more authentic than someone else, we all just have similar experiences where this part of our stories are similar and we can share them however we want. You can talk about the laws themselves, people with disabilities in the workplace, fashion, and beauty, or a whole host of other industries that impact people with disabilities. If you become a disability advocate, do it in whatever way works for you.
Go To Events: Network Or Try New Things: When virtual events started during the pandemic, it was a chance to attend events being held all over the world and connect with people in a new way. I know after a year and half, you’re probably all zoomed out, but last October I was still excited about the opportunities it held. Last October I attended the first ever Virtual Rollettes Experience. This event was two days filled with dance classes and speakers influential in the disability community such as actress Ali Stroker, Stephanie Thomas of Cur8able, Paralympic Gold Medalist Mallory Weggemann, Disabilityactivist Judy Huemann, as well as a few other women who have made an impact in the world.
The Rollettes Experience was an opportunity to connect with hundreds of women with disabilities to share experiences, fun stories, ideas, and tips dealing with challenges and of course dancing. It was an amazing time, a weekend of mentally recharging in a sense. I had fun, but more importantly, I connected with others in my community and learned from them as well. I have yet to make it to an in-person Rollettes Experience event, but it’s something I definitely hope to do and recommend it to anyone who can do so. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I attended this event, but it was a lesson, really a reminder of how important networking is in any capacity. If you’re on the fence about trying a new activity, signing up for a classor going to an event. I say go for it, you may love it, or at very least you have an interesting experience.
Talk About / Show The Challenges: The reason I included this one ties into the first reason “positivity is authentic“ because talking about the challenges of the bad days lends itself to your credibility, reliability and authenticity. I chose to go the social media route starting this blog and social media challenges to talk about the realities of living with my disability, but that’s not the only way to be a disability advocate. You can advocate in whatever way you choose, the way that works for you.
It’s difficult to talk about the tough days, but it would be a straight-up lie if you said living with a disability didn’t have it’s challenges. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to because no one is entitled to that. However as a content creator watching other women show how hard something is sometimes and talk about the parts of disability that aren’t necessarily Instagram-worthy or just sharing what you do on a difficult day, makes you seem more relatable to the people you’re creating content for. It’s easier said than done for so many reasons, but it shows that you have been there, you get it.
The way I see it, when society talks about disability it’s all sad, and medical miracles happen everyday kind of thing, but none of it talks about normal people going through their daily lives with work family, friends and the feelings that you get when something isn’t accessible or when someone makes a comment based on their misconceptions or desire to be rude. Share whatever experiences you want to share because however you do it, if you just reach one person, then you’ve made an impact.
Word of Wisdom From Limitless by Mallory Weggmann: “The hardest thing about my injury Wasn’t the physical part, but accepting the fact that even though society saw a label permanently stamped on me, that did not mean I had to accept the preconceived notions that came with it. I do not have to live the kind of life a person with a disability was “supposed” to. I do not have to conform to anyone else’s narrow, simple idea of what “disabled” should look like. The moment I realized I held the key to my destiny, I truly became limitless.”
When I first read this paragraph, I felt the power behind the words or maybe it was just how relatable it all seemed. I 100% agree for me the hardest part of being disabled isn’t the challenges that I have to go through, but it does get tiring trying to deal with the misconceptions people have about my capabilities in so many aspects just because I happened to be sitting in a wheelchair. I love this quote and it’s a mindset I have to work on every day but it is a reminder to me to keep going despite what anyone says because I am capable. It is hard to go after what you want sometimes when the expectation or lack thereof is so low, or green, at least that’s been my experience. However, you can decide now, today to Define your life on your terms not what society believes people with disabilities should be capable of.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again this blogging journey has certainly been interesting. since starting The Sitting Beauty Diaries, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many women a disability learn more, talk about issues affecting our community and just laugh about situations that you find yourself in if you have a disability visible or not. if there is one thing you take away from this post despite the lessons let i that you find a community,Whether it’s online or not oh, I’ve learned that it good to connect with people that understand something that is such a huge part of your life. I hope that when you read this post, you think about the changes that you can make to go after what you want despite the negative comments and misconceptions that Society has about us as people with disabilities. It may take some time and planning, but I know that if you aren’t already, you can be well on your way to the amazing life you want disability and all.