As a generally average British girl, my life is pretty damn awkward anyway so having a disability and using a wheelchair often makes it even more so. The hilarious thing is, it’s often not me that’s feeling awkward.
So many times throughout my life, I’ve been avoided, talked down to and just plain ignored because of my disability. I can make light of it now but it’s actually a really serious and sad issue.
At all kinds of places (bars, hotel, airports, restaurants) people just plain ignore me! It’s the worst! They will do anything from talk to the person with me, blankly stare at me as if I’m speaking a different language and other times just pretend that I’m not there! This is definitely the worst kind of awkward interaction and it can really effect your confidence as a wheelchair user.
It’s hard enough to keep the confident facade going as a young adult as it is, so when throwing a wheelchair into the mix, it gets harder.
Avoiding the awkward
I’m ashamed to say there have definitely been times where I’ve avoided situations or asked someone else to do something for me to avoid awkward interactions (such as reaching card machines in shops, signing room check-in keys when the counter is literally higher than your head).
I’ve realised, this is simply the worst thing I could do.
I’m the kind of person who likes to challenge myself daily, to the point of painful fear and regret. You’re talking to the girl who auditioned for The Apprentice with no business plan when she was 18! Sometimes I just love being uncomfortable. However, the kind of uncomfortable that avoidance brings is a kind of deja vu uncomfortable that on bad days you just don’t want to deal with.
The good, the bad and the awkward
Sometimes, when I’m out, people will just not talk to me. They will literally avoid talking to me to talk to anyone who is with me, whether it’s my mom, my husband or a friend. They will talk to them rather than me.
There have been times that I’ve been answering back and they’ve been sending their answers back to me via other people, like they are a spirit and I am using the person I am with as a vessel to communicate!
Now I know a lot of my disabled friends have experienced this and I think it’s one of the most common awkward and annoying moments that I experience.
But don’t get me wrong, using a wheelchair definitely also has it’s upsides!
As many of you know, I love festivals and I’ve been to most of them. I was recently at a music festival (I won’t say which as I don’t want anyone to get in trouble!) where myself and two others (both wheelchair users) literally just walked into the VIP area.
We weren’t asked if we had tickets or wristbands, we weren’t checked at all. So we spent most of the afternoon enjoying the hospitality that we hadn’t paid for. Thanks to the awkward security guard for not asking any questions!
As some of you may also know, I was an overly rebellious and not always well behaved teenager. At college myself and my friends were caught by the police doing something bad and teenager-like. The police proceeded to arrest all of my friends, except me, and took them to the station. At the time, this really annoyed me! Shouldn’t all police cars be able to transport electric wheelchairs? But now I look back on this and I guess it was a good thing as I got off scot-free!
End the Awkward is returning and we want to change even more attitudes around disability.
Got a really awkward story? We’d love to hear about it! Has anyone ever tried to avoid you or acted totally awkwardly around you? Tell us your story today.