One of the most frustrating parts of having a disability is when people think that I can do anything. When I have vented to others of the struggles of having one, people would often used motivational quotes such as “you can do anything you put your mind to or to shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” One of the most frustrating ones had to be You can do whatever you put your mind to. When I would hear this I would think that this would be the time that I would master math, learn how to drive and be able to do all the things I wanted to do. I would put forth the time and the effort, and would be disappointed when I made little to no progress. People would tell me to try harder or that I could perform better. The pressure to perform to other people standards, made me feel ashamed of my disability and even more frustrated on the limitations it had on me. It wasn’t until I accepted that I couldn’t do all things, that I began to accept my Learning Disability.
The idea that everyone is good at everything, isn’t a reality for anyone. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses. What may be easy for one person, may be difficult for others. Most people also tend to not invest time in something that is difficult or frustrating for them. I don’t enjoy activities that require math. You won’t find me doing SUDOKU puzzles in my free time, but I love unscrambling words. I also tend to not participate in team sports, due to my lack of eye hand coordination, but I like group exercise fitness. My limited hand dexterity makes knitting, and folding crafts difficult, but I love to paint. I’m sure that if I did these things, I may improve, but most likely it would be short lived and wouldn’t live up to the expectations others would have for me. Most importantly I would spend time feeling frustrated and in adequate. Avoiding activities that are stressful helps me to enjoy my spare time. I have also had to do this in other parts of my daily life. I can’t avoid math completely, but I can limit it and find ways to deal with it. If I go out to eat I can use a tip calculator to help show me the tip that I need to give.
Many people also think that a person with a disability has super human powers, fueled by their disability. The media loves to present characters that have savant like abilities, or stories of people with disabilities that can do all things. People see those narratives and expect a person with a disability to perform to unrealistic standard. I doubt that most people without disabilities would like to be help to such unattainable standards of holding super powers.
Another unhelpful narrative is comparing what people with disabilities can and can’t do. I can remember being compared to other people who could drive or do math well with a disability. The narrative was if they could do so could I. In reality driving and math are the big areas of my life that are a struggle. Hearing others say this caused more frustration and wasn’t helpful to my situation. Each person with a disability, will experience it differently even if they have the same one. I’m glad that the person with a disability has the ability to do something well, but it’s not helpful to place that pressure on another person.
When someone with a disability doesn’t perform to the expectations of others, they are often shamed. People will view them as lazy or unmotivated. Others will say if they really want to do it they could or they are told to try harder. In reality the person with a disability may be indeed doing the best that they can. The issue is not the disability, but the society that is created that everyone can do what they put their mind to.
Admitting that there are things that I can’t do has kept me humble. I used to feel less than because I couldn’t read the face of a clock or understand how numbers worked. I focused on what I couldn’t do that I almost lost focused on what I was good at such as reading and writing. Sharing my vulnerabilities, also helped others to share with things that they struggle with. All of us have some type of thing that is hard for us. Some people may have disabilities, others may have addictions or traumas that have happened to them at some point in their lives. Many people show it and others are good at hiding their issues.
I also had to learn who to trust with my story. When many people hear that I struggle with certain things because of my disability they want to cure me. People will tell me if I just got my act together or prayed harder I wouldn’t have a disability. I can remember telling a person from church about how I was struggling and her response was “Well didn’t you pray about it?” I did pray about it but God had other ideas for how my life was to go. Thankfully his plan was far better than the one that I had in mind.
In my life there will be some things that I cannot do, no matter how hard I try. There will be limitations because of my disability and will have to use creative problem solving to compensate. . My personal best may not be good enough for the world and people will try to perfect me. I have made my peace with the things that I’m unable to do. I may not be able to do every thing that I put my mind to, but there are many things that I can do. I need to focus on what I can do and find creative ways to do the things that are difficult.
2 thoughts on “How I really can’t do every thing I put my mind to.”
Thank you for your take on some of the unreasonable expectations some neurotypicals have. It’s ignorance, but can really be discouraging. Yes, leverage your strengths and work around your weaknesses – be realistic about which is which. Just keep educating those who don’t get it yet!
BTW, please don’t use the curlycue font. It’s hard to read for some of us. A simple sans-serif like Helvitica or Ariel is best for wide accessibility. Thanks so much!
Hi Audrey. Thank you for the feedback. I will take the font style into consideration. I’m also in the process of converting my posts into audio, so people can hear them as well. Thank you once again!