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The Power of Optimism and Turning a Disability Into a "Superpower" Rather Than an Excuse

No cape can capture the captivating moments we create

I don’t have a review of Kanye West’s album. I do have ideas that were sparked by Kanye’s joy of calling his bipolar disorder a superpower rather than a restriction. With that being said, I do not excuse Kanye’s remarks as of lately. “Never Let Me Down” now makes me shed a tear.

I never envisioned myself in the field of social work. I didn’t think I’d be helping someone with developmental disabilities — at least as a career path. To my surprise, the people I work with taught me that I need them, just as much as they need me.

The barricaded factors that tells us someone is incapable for a certain line of work, activity, or conversation is a diversion from all that is gold. Instead of focusing on the weaknesses, let’s bring you into their vocational themes and find their strengths, just as anyone would — with or without a disability.

Above my desk is the sticker that reads “labels are for jars, not people.” I believe in that, wholeheartedly. Once you label someone, you attempt to box them in. We can do much more than what others think and even the beliefs we place upon ourselves. It’s egregious to label anyone. The mantled stigma around disabilities lingers like a mosquito at a cookout. Even worst, people treat disabled people like mosquitoes, like they don’t deserve equal worth or to be around.

I arrived at the job site of a client who worked as a greater at the local hardware store. This was my first time meeting him. I didn’t know what to expect and nerves made me. I entered the store and spotted him right away. I recognized him from 20×20 posters we have plastered around the office. He greeted each and every guest that walked through the door. When anyone needed directions, he became the vocal directory. We chatted for nearly 30 minutes — picking each other’s brain and discovering common interest. Finally, music and documentaries came into conversation. “I’m working on a documentary,” he told me, moving his mobilized wheelchair out the path for customers. I won’t share the name of his documentary because it hasn’t come to light yet and I don’t want to dim the shine on his amazing title. However, the concept behind the documentary embodied ideas of confidence, resilience, and ambition. “There’s no excuses,” he told me. “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I’ve heard these words a thousand times over, but the words resonated differently from his speech.

Pain can turn the front cover of a blank notebook and create a beautiful story — filling the pages with glory that thrive from hardship. I sort of, kind of have conducted a study of my own this year: the study of people — loosely with no formal training. We all have a disability. You can do everything? Nobody is perfect walking this earth’s surface. Cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, and/or sensory make up the different forms of a disability. I break everything down into molecules and likely make things more difficult than need be, but hey, that’s what I do and it promotes my growth and become more understanding, to a fault at times.

Activity break

Make a list. I want you to list off things you can’t do or you aren’t particularly good at but know you can do — and eventually be good at — with a little help.

In my line of social work, I assist developmental disabled people with their participation in the community, tasks in their field of work, transportation, and much more. Restrictions/limitations can vary and bend depending on who the person is. One person I work with has an exceptional eye for detail in her workplace and stays completely focused the entire time she works. How I wish I could this. I’m always on my phone and got in trouble numerous times at jobs for slacking off. I’m always intrigued by her work ethic and her ability to move on to the next tasks with little-to-no help from a supervisor. I assisted a client today at her new job and I had trouble doing a task that he knew how to do rather quick. He helped me with the task and we got it done, together.

“There’s no excuse,” as I was told before.

“I think we all have something,” Kanye said in response to Big Boi of Power 106, when asked if we all have a disability of some sort.

What’s the difference between a person with a disability and yourself? We all need help with something. My grandfather can change a car into two million different objects but don’t put a smart phone or computer near him. I can write my ass off but don’t be let match be involved. Another client I work with enjoys math and assists me when needed. Each one, teach one. Becoming one team.

Original Story: BLUNTIQ

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