I think it has a lot do with how confident I’m feeling at the time and on how my mind is focused. Quite often I’m always thinking about the next thing and as most people with disabilities know, going out and participating in life takes a lot of forethought and planning.
In a lot of ways I think the mindset I use in my everyday life is similar to what I’ve found it takes for me to be successful as a writer. I know the minute I start thinking about whether or not people like what I have to say on my blog or whether what I’m writing is going to change the world that’s when I lose confidence and I can even lose the urge to write because I allow my mind to lose focus and fill with anxiety over the outcome of something before I’ve even started.
But, when I can grab hold of the confidence and focus I need and write simply because I want to share the insights I have about the stories that impact my life that’s when the words flow easier and the blogs start to take shape. In a way the less thought I put into what people think about me or the way I walk or the way I write the better life tends to go.
That’s not to say that I enjoy it when people stare. I think it’s just that I don’t hide from the fact that I know people will and that it’s pointless to react to it in a way that would keep me from putting myself out there. It’s human nature to be curious and it’s also human nature for everyone to form an opinion about what they see and even what they read. I can’t control any of that but when I can manage is my reactions to others and whether or not I want to let it upset me. Sometimes it can’t be helped as there are people who are just blatantly rude but most of the time people are just processing something they haven’t seen before or considered and they’re trying to understand a life different from their own.
A couple of months ago I visited New York City for the very first time and it was one of the few periods of my life when I really noticed people staring at me. I noticed because I was actually quite nervous about the trip especially since I knew I’d be spending three days by myself in a place made famous by the hundreds of Law & Order episodes I’ve watched over the course of my life. Riding the subway, going to the Hudson River or walking around the Lower East Side filled my mind with stereotypical anxieties of violent crimes and I found myself a little on edge. But, as I walked around the city trying to figure out where I was going and probably giving the hairy eyeball to everyone I saw I noticed that yes there sure are a whole lot of people who stare at me in a day but most of them just want to help or at least understand better.
New Yorkers were amazingly kind to me. Quite often a stranger would come up to me without being asked to tell me where the nearest elevator was or to help me find the shortest route to wherever I was headed. One of them even apologized directly to me on the street for staring even though I’m pretty sure I was looking harder at him than he was at me. It made me realize that how I feel about myself is probably the biggest indicator of how others are going to feel about me as well.
That’s why no matter whether I’m walking or writing I try to focus my mind on what I’m doing and confidently go about my business while thinking about the task at hand. I choose to put myself out there in life whether it’s with my writing or even it’s just by walking around but I keep my mind focused and that helps me not put energy into worrying about or being personally offended by the staring that I know is happening.
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