Society makes me feel less valuable because I live in a body that can’t do as much as my peers…
I was 17 when my health forced me to drop out of school.
I left with no A-levels, went to no university, hold no degree, no job, and for some reason, society deems me less valuable because of this.
Some of the first questions people often ask upon meeting are:
“What do you do for a living?”
“What university did you go to?”
“What’s your job?”
While I know this small talk is natural in our society, it’s hard when you have no answers to these questions.
It’s hard when you know success is decided on what’s on a piece of paper rather than what’s in your heart.
I know not all of society is like this, and I’m so grateful for the people I have in my life who never make me feel less valuable than them.
But that also doesn’t take away the fact that I sadly often feel that way about myself, and I know a lot of that is what I’ve absorbed from society generally.
I’m still unlearning these things.
I’m still unlearning what success means.
I’m still unlearning that working every night until midnight is less important than how I treat myself and others.
I’m still unlearning that being disabled with no qualifications doesn’t mean I’m not clever, ambitious, or incapable of learning.
But I know it’s going to be an ongoing, daily job of unlearning.
I know that as I become part of society again, I’ll have to grapple with all these questions once again.
And the truth is, I know that if I tell someone I don’t have a job or even A-levels, some people will immediately place me as “lower” to them.
But I also know the harsh truth that if I then tell them I’m an author and have written a book, I’ll probably be placed back on the “successful” list.
And I don’t want that.
I don’t want to use my achievements to make others see me as worthy.
I am just as valuable today even if I hadn’t written a book.
I am just as valuable if all I had done up to this point was survive.
And I know that those who are kind and deserving of my time will never make me feel any less valuable than them, ever.