By Nicolas Gurley
When I was 18 years old I was in a motorcycle accident that has left me with a physical disability. Eleven years later I still find myself adjusting to living with such a disability. Since young adults with disabilities constitute a minority of the population, I find that there still is a serious lack of awareness or consideration toward us from the general population. Although there are a number of individuals who are very considerate and helpful to young adults with disabilities, I find that many people just brush us off to the side in their minds as they seem to consider us not worthy of their time. NYC, like many other metropolitan cities, fosters many social interactions that are based more heavily on first impressions than anything else. Furthermore, a city like New York usually moves at an extremely fast pace, so a lot of people do not find the time to interact with someone who, for one reason or another, is not able to keep up all the time.
Of course, then comes the issue of self esteem and self image that are usually very heavily influenced by how others regard and interact with us. Living with a disability already comes with a whirlpool of issues and struggles around the concepts self esteem and self image, but when we feel like the people we interact with, or at least try to, reinforce the negative beliefs we have, then it can make you feel really isolated, alone and misunderstood in this world. This can strengthen the belief that living with a disability in a place like New York, a city of over 8 million people, feels like the loneliest place on earth.
The truth is you are not alone. There are many people out there who are not so shallow, who would take the time to try to get to know us as a person, beyond our disabilities. However, realistically speaking, these people are not usually a majority of the population, and it is practically impossible to know who they are unless by chance you interact with them. Keep in mind there are many other people like you who live in this city with disabilities. Sure, no one is exactly in your same situation but they are probably some of the people who can best understand your life as they are faced with similar social issues to the ones you have experienced.
If you or someone you know is living in the NYC area with a disability, I will be forming a support group for young adults with disabilities living in the NYC area. If you are interested in such a group you can contact me through the NYC Therapist website or directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 917-525-2205 x9.
By Nicolas Gurley