By All Appearances…

Whether we like it or not, a year has come and gone since the pandemic began—old news, I know. I’ve noticed in my own life that the milestone seemed to catch up with us all in one way or another, even if we didn’t admit it to anyone. We may have adjusted to this different lifestyle and don’t feel the panic we did at first, but discouragement still lingers as we trudge along.

I’ve come across several sources that claim that we also aren’t communicating like we used to, and I think that only compounds the gloom we’re feeling. We’re projecting on social media and Zoom calls/meetings that everything’s great, which can just make us feel more alone. We might assume everybody else is fine, when in all actuality, they’re putting on the same façade we are. Why can’t we be real with one another?

I can’t answer that, and that isn’t the purpose of this post. Rather, this is merely an example of a truth that has been going on for eons before this, namely that we can look fine but have struggles nobody realizes. Many grapple with physical, mental and emotional illnesses that are invisible to the eye. Even the ones who don’t, never lay out every obstacle he/she faces on a daily basis.   

I know quite a few people who suffer from these invisible conditions, and I feel for them. Most of them are beautiful, young women, yet they deal with debilitating pain, fatigue, along with other chronic conditions. Many fail to see the battles they have to live with day after day, and they often have to defend themselves to convince others that what they feel is real because they “appear” to be okay. Such ones deserve special consideration and care instead of scrutiny and judgement.

For those of us who have evident disabilities, the appearance game is different but not easy. I’ve heard that I’m better off because people can see my handicap and show me the understanding I need, but I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t true. Some assume I have more severe limitations than I really do, while others believe my challenges aren’t as bad as they truly are. Plus, I never have even two seconds in which a stranger just sees me and not my Cerebral Palsy.

Even if one understands my degree of difficulty, I’ve found that they can still misjudge how I’m affected by my limitations. For instance, a lot of people just see that I can’t walk or perform many fine motor functions, but few realize the toll my spasticity takes on me. It makes every task more difficult, since my body can never stay still. It’s like I constantly live in an earthquake zone, and the magnitude of them varies by the day. Even as a baby before anyone knew about it, I’ve always had to keep my arm positioned just so, in order to keep it somewhat under control. Of all my challenges, that’s the most grueling.

The saying, “Everyone’s going through something,” is so true, especially in the past year. That’s why it should be more than a mantra; it should be a mentality. It should make us act kinder and more compassionate because we don’t know what somebody is facing. We also ought not to compare our struggles with another person’s, as that can quickly breed division. On the contrary, let’s look beyond appearance, listen to each other, and learn from one another’s coping mechanisms. After all, Hollywood’s moved far past silent movies, so why shouldn’t we?

Also See

The Comparison Conundrum

The Making of Minka

The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing

3 thoughts on “By All Appearances…

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