This is mostly a follow-up on ‘What it Takes’.
One of the things I talked about is the idea that continuing towards our dreams is courageous. It’s something that we who have disabilities tend to think isn’t true, and as I mulled over the responses people made, I finally started trying to put together a better explanation of this.
It’s not so much that continuing to have a life, to work towards our dreams isn’t courageous. I suppose, depending on your definition of courage, it may very well be.
But that’s not the only thing that motivates us to act this way. In fact, I think sometimes this choice is less about courage and more about fear.
Fear that we will lose our selves if we lose the direction we’ve been headed.
Fear that we will be worth less, intrinsically or comparatively, if we stop.
Fear that we will lose something even bigger than dreams – our ability to dream, our happiness, the people we love.
Fear that if we stop, we will never get started again.
Fear that it will be different.
To be completely and utterly honest, I think that fear pushes me more often than courage does. I have lost so many pieces of my old self to disability that I am afraid to lose more. So many old dreams, old passions, old hobbies. So many old wants, old abilities, old certainties. I do worry about what people think of me, and how my extended family will treat me if I stop trying to work or go to school. I worry about getting isolated, losing friends and acquaintances, not meeting new people. I worry about becoming a bitter shut-in who does nothing with her life. I am terrified of being worthless or useless.
Perhaps, from the outside, my struggle to continue looks like courage. It often doesn’t feel much like it from the inside.