exhilaration: (impossible things)
[personal profile] exhilaration
22. How do you think people see you? Be a little negative and a little positive.

Well... I use a wheelchair, and I do think people see that first. I am also a girl, and I think people see that next. My hair, right now, is brown with purple stripes on the sides and in the front, and that, I think, is very noticeable. So, I think people see me as the girl in the wheelchair with the purple hair.

At school I think people see me as a little younger than I really am, which I'm not sure I understand. I've had people tell me they'd thought I was 22-23 and even act like they don't believe I'm really 28 when I tell them. Thing is, I don't think I look younger than I am. I have wrinkles on my forehead and shadows under my eyes, and usually some grey roots showing above my purple hair (that's why it's purple - because otherwise it would be grey) and I feel like even when I'm presenting myself at my very best, just look, well, old and tired. That's how I feel, anyway. So it kinda throws me to have people insist that I couldn't possibly be the age I say I am. Maybe there is something about my expression or the way I carry myself that makes me seem younger, or maybe it's just that sitting down, I am shorter than everyone around me (and I would still be the shortest one even if I were standing, too) and people just subconsciously associate that with being younger as well.

I think I'm also seen as being a bit better of a student than I actually am. This has kind of always happened to me, and although I think it probably works to my advantage, I don't really understand why it happens. Something about me says "quiet and studious" when in reality, I'm very unfocused and although I've worked very hard NOT to procrastinate too much or get away with the bare minimum with assignments (or not even complete them) sometimes I still do come to class unprepared, not having read whatever I was supposed to or completed whatever prep work I was supposed to show up to class with or studied for a quiz or whatever. I'm a terrible study-er. I'm an awful note-taker. My handwriting is bordering on illegible. I'm not fastidious or particular or thorough about anything at all, and certainly not school, yet when doing group work people seem to think I'd be best suited to be the secretary, the one who writes everything down and stuff. And somehow in school I was always the one people who didn't study tried to sit near during a test (to cheat off of, but I usually didn't study either) or who got picked first for team quizzes and whatever.

I don't know if I've managed to shake this "very innocent" image that's followed me around my whole life, either. I mean obviously people who have continually observed me doing things like messing with drugs or attempting to explore promiscuity, they don't think I'm super sheltered and innocent. But I think when people first meet me, that must still be the impression I give. When I first moved to NJ and I started working at the restaurant, that was what all my coworkers saw me as. When I would go out to the bars with them after work they were all shocked and excited to see me drinking a beer, because somehow they all assumed I was one of those people who didn't believe in drinking alcohol. It was a very strange experience for me because it felt like going backwards in my life. Like, when I lived in Philadelphia, I figured I had finally visibly misbehaved enough for people to stop assuming these things about me, but when I moved, it was all undone again.

People also see me as a liar. I'm very hesitant to relax around new people and start talking about myself. Talk about them, yeah sure, I'd like that, talk about music or comic books or movies, yeah we can do that, but I get sort of nervous when it seems to fit in the flow of conversation for me to start sharing things about myself, because it tends to turn awkward very quickly. I've had people cut me off mid-sentence to tell me they don't believe what I'm saying, and then I've also just read it in people's expressions and change of demeanor that they think I'm just telling stories. I mean, I don't think I can trust everything I THINK I "know" people are thinking about me, but when they come right out and say it, that's pretty irrefutable. Going along with that, I think they also see me as incompetent, or that I am lying about what I can and cannot do, because most people, unless they are good friends of mine, do not seem to process "no, I do not need help with this" and either take things out of my hands/do things for me or just hover over me "making sure" I am ok when I say repeatedly that I am fine. And I'm talking about non-mobility-related things, like yes I am able to make a phone call, fill out forms, answer questions, that sort of thing. So... young, studios, innocent, delusional, and incompetent. That's more than a little negative. "Girl in the wheelchair with the purple hair" I guess can be positive, cause at least nobody mixes me up with anyone else, and being known for my hair, even if it's secondary, really ain't bad at all.

As for something else positive... I don't know. I can't think of much. Well, I think maybe people see me as lucky. I talk about my boyfriend a lot, and when people see us together then that's proof that I am NOT making him up and everything I've said has been real, and when people see us together I think they see us as lucky to have found each other, cause I've heard that sometimes from people. Also, what else? I think people see me as the most likely member of a given group to be able to provide random obscure information on command (cause I have people track me down with questions that fit that category, and then they say, see, I knew you would know something like that) And I think people see me as sort of the oddball type, because when I mention things like playing music or drawing or whatever, people are sometimes like, oh right, that so fits you, I totally pegged you for the artsy type. So, those are the positive things: lucky, wikipedia, and artsy oddball.

Date: 2012-08-13 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azuma-chan.livejournal.com
Wheelchair?! Why are you using that?! (if that's okay to ask)

"My handwriting is bordering on illegible."
Well! You're not the only one.

Date: 2012-08-13 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lara-everlong.livejournal.com
Yeah I have a theory that each person has only a certain amount of legible writing in them, and once they've used it up, everything else just comes out chicken scratch! If I make an effort, it looks okay, but I've also been completely unable to read my own notes so, I think I've passed that point by now!

Wheelchair?! Why are you using that?! (if that's okay to ask)

*trying to decide whether or not to be a smartass...* Ummmm so I can go places? Cause I can't walk so otherwise I would be stuck at home? I know, that's not the answer you're looking for. I have a spinal cord injury so my legs are paralyzed, that is why I use a wheelchair. I don't bring it up a whole lot in this journal but it is definitely the first thing people see in real life. And in real life, believe it or not, random people, usually people I've never met or even seen before, do come up to me in public and ask me that. It drives me crazy - and I never know quite what to say or how to react.

Date: 2012-08-14 09:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bblue23.livejournal.com
I knew already you were in a wheelchair. That seems like it would be difficult to adjust to in a lot of ways. How long ago was your spinal cord injury?

Date: 2012-08-14 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lara-everlong.livejournal.com
I got hurt two days before my fifteenth birthday, so it has been 13 years now. It's not something I have entirely adjusted to really. My body sometimes feels very foreign to me, even after all this time, and I am often very uncomfortable with myself. I try not to show that part of me to others if I can help it because I think it makes them uncomfortable too, and I don't really know what to do with that. Also, I only used a wheelchair for a few years after I was injured - after that I used crutches, and I could walk pretty well that way, but that is how I messed up my shoulders so badly. Shoulder surgery has been difficult to recover from, and going back to using a wheelchair after working so hard to get away from it hasn't been easy either. Some things I have gotten used to, but I think it will always be tough to feel like all my mistakes and struggles are RIGHT THERE, all on display for the entire world to see, right away, first thing, and that some of the time, that's ALL people see.

Date: 2012-08-18 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeegeek.livejournal.com
3rd party observer here, but I see you as cute :) Not sure how to spin that into both a positive and a negative.

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Lara I.

October 2012

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