I even used to claim that while disability was part of who I was, it did not define me – I’d say that proudly. And then I had this lightbulb moment: What are you saying when you say that? It’s not about whether it defines you; you are defined by society, by it!’ And you can either claim your identity as a member of a group within society that is treated differently because of an impairment and understand the social model of disability – its emphasis on the collective creation of the negative aspects - or you can pretend to yourself that this is an individual thing, that you just get to journey with!
If you don’t know, Greens Senator for WA Jordon Steele-John has cerebral palsy. I found this a really wonderful article, with a lot that I could identify with in it, about his experience growing up disabled in Australia.
For myself, I’ve never wanted to be defined by my disability. I always saw myself as a normal, healthy person that happened to have a body that looked a bit different from most people’s. But as I’ve got older and have realised I’m not capable of the crushing workloads that most professional/salaried jobs require (which TBH I should have clued onto sooner, given I barely had enough energy for school a lot of the time), identification with my disability has kind of been forced upon me.