People often told me that “I barely feel that you are a person with disability” or “I totally forgot that you are in wheelchair.”
I’ve wondered why. I think the reasons could be
1. I had attended regular schools and surrounded by students without disabilities. I have never considered myself as disabled.
– All my friends were non-disabled people from kindergarten to college.
I think they grew up with the thought that “Mizuki cannot walk. But that is her. That’s it.”
Thanks to my friends, I spent really good time without any feeling of discomfort or isolation.
In my elementary school and junior high school, there was special classes for students with disabilities.
However, the regular classes that I attended were separated from the special classes.
Therefore I have thought that I am different from those disabled students.
This may sound funny but I actually felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do when I first went to a place where many disabled people.
– Because of my childhood background, even now I am not familiar with those places, facilities, or types of service for people with disabilities.
I feel comfortable to do things on my own.
I do need help sometimes like you but I don’t need special cares.
– The way I behave is not like a wheelchair user (a..k.a.Moon Rider).
For example, I feel more comfortable to sit on a regular chair by transferring from my wheelchair when working at office or having lunch at restaurant.
At many restaurants, as soon as a waiter sees me in wheelchair, he takes away a chair for me.
His smiling face is saying like
“Welcome! I know this way is easier for wheelchair!”
But I would say, “Excuse me, I want to use a regular chair, so please put it back?”
Sitting on a regular chair is way better than sitting on a wheelchair.
2. I try everything by myself. I don’t need special care in many cases.
– I don’t usually ask someone to push my wheelchair except for going up on a steep uphill or climbing a huge step.
If I really need help, I would ask for it.
I don’t wait for someone to help me.
What I want/need is very clear, so people don’t need to worry about me all the time.
– I carry my bag by myself on my lap.
And I don’t hang it on my back of wheelchair unless it is very heavy or huge.
Hanging a bag in wheelchair is not stylish. I also think that my important items should be near my hands.
– I can do all house chores (cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking) by myself.
I had lived by myself in Kagoshima, U.S., Tokyo for 5 years.
I don’t need a help for basic daily tasks like using restroom, taking a bath, changing clothes. Therefore, people around me don’t need to worry about me.
– At office, I am too strong to open a heavy door by myself more than non-disabled employees.
I often won boys in arm wrestling battle back in elementary school.
3. I am a positive thinker. I don’t care about small matters.
– Maybe this causes my original personality, but basically I think every matter positively.
I don’t care about small matters too much…well, it might be correct to say that I easily forget about those…hahaha.
– Of course my life is not perfect.
I am not doing great all the time but I always try to find my silver linings
– People are impressed by my positive mindset and aggressive attitude.
I am often told that I have inspired them.
4. I am an active person. I go everywhere by myself, and I go fast.
– I’m always looking for something fun. When I find one, I just go for it. I don’t spend much time on planning.
I wanna start it ASAP.
Although I start really quick, I easily get tired of it as well…ha.
– I often go out.
I attend events and go traveling.
I am inspired by thinking new and doing new.
– I walk really fast by wheelchair.
People often say “I saw you earlier, but I couldn’t say hi because you were too fast! hahaha.”
When I am with someone who actually walks, I need to slow down 3 times slower than my regular walking speed.
But still, I am told “Mizuki, you go too fast!” My regular waking speed is faster than other people’s brisk walking.
Even if I am not in hurry, I go with this speed.
5. I welcome new friends with smile.
– I am often told that “You are always smiling.”
Actually I am not good at smiling, but I tried to be smiling all the time during my study abroad in the US.
I didn’t understand what people were talking about, so I tried to get by most conversations with smile.
Then people were very nice to me and I got so many friends, I even picked up a husband! haha.
– People usually feel comfortable when seeing someone smiling.
For instance, when I go to see a musical show, I would focus on a person having the most shining smile, even if I don’t know anything about her.
And I would feel she is a positive, energetic, and fun woman.
– It is said that the first impression can be decided within a few seconds.
Therefore, I always show my smile from me at first when meeting someone new.
I expect that a person who just meet me is thinking many things like “She is a wheelchair user.
What happened to her? Should I ask or not? What can I do for her?” etc.
Therefore I want to show people that it is ok to talk to me.
Above 5 points could be the reasons, I guess.
In sum, my appearance is obviously a disabled person, but the way I live is obviously not like one.
Moreover, I am more active than regular non-disabled people.
I believe “I can do anything”.
And I think that people around me also believe “She can do anything”.
Just to tell you, I am going to the U.S. to do research for 1 year.
I just got married in April, but I go to the States by myself.
Some people were surprised, but my old friends from school days said “The choice is really you.”
Yep, that’s how I roll.