Woman shouts into a megaphone.

I Stood Up For Myself!

I’ve been a shy, anxious person my whole life. I don’t remember a time when I found it easy to talk to people. I was even anxious around extended family members. I don’t know why, but this is just me.

It took me a long time to be able to talk to strangers. All throughout my school years, I was so anxious and scared that I would shake during presentations. I would ask to present things to the teacher during lunch. School was a terrifying time for me, being around so many people I didn’t really know every single day.

It started to get easier

I got a job in a restaurant after high school which then made it a lot easier to talk to people because I was forced to. I’m still a very anxious person, but I’m a lot better than I used to be. I feel like talking to so many doctors and nurses about my condition in the last 5 years has helped too. The only thing to help social anxiety is exposure.

Accessibility as a disabled person

As a newly identified disabled person who is also anxious, sometimes it’s hard to ask for what I need. I will often times just suffer in silence rather than ask for accommodations. It’s not a great thing to do, and it’s not that I’m embarrassed to be disabled, it’s that it’s what I’m used to.

I’m a very anxious person, so my whole life has been putting up with things that I don’t necessarily want to, just because I don’t want to ask for something different.

I now use a walker or a cane when I leave the house, and often times I require help for things. Things like putting my walker in a car and getting it out, having people walk at my pace so I don’t get too fatigued, help washing myself in the bath etc.

It’s not easy to ask for help. I think everyone can agree with that. Most times, I don’t want to ask for help, I want to do things myself, but that’s not often the best idea.

Using my mobility aids

Now that I use a walker most times that I leave the house, I’ve noticed I need more assistance from strangers.

For example, In the fall, I started going for walks almost every day down the street. I’m trying to work up my tolerance for exercise. There was a house that was getting work done on it on my street. There was always a work van in the driveway that parked over the sidewalk.

Some days I just went down the street the other way, but I wanted to see something different every once in a while, so I decided to go the way of the van.

The first time I passed the house, I went around the van and on the grass with my walker. It was extremely annoying and out of the way. I thought about it for my whole walk, and that if someone was using a wheelchair, they would be completely unable to go past this house.

I decided that on the way back, I was going to say something. This is completely unlike me, which you can probably tell from my earlier stories.

On the way back, I saw one of the workers and motioned for him to come over to me. I told him that the way he had parked was inaccessible to people with mobility aids, and asked him how I was supposed to get by his van.

He apologized profusely and told me he would move it. Guess what? I felt GOOD! I had asked for something I needed for my accessibility and I got it!

Stand up for yourself!

If there’s anything I can say I learned from this experience, it’s to stand up for yourself and ask what you need. Often times, able-bodied people aren’t thinking of disabled people when they do certain things. It doesn’t cross their minds. All you have to do is ask, and you educate others and make them think!

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