My blog this week is a bit of a rewind for me, to thoughts about identity, disability and blue ink. First, a bit of background. Anyone who knows me knows that for many years I talked about inking myself with disability pride, in the form of the wheelchair parking logo on my arm. Then, almost five years ago, I did it. At the time I wrote about a Facebook note (my medium before blogs) about the way that getting it made me feel. And now as we approach my five year tattooing anniversary, I thought I’d offer some more tattoo musings.
You will be happy to know that I still love it. In fact, I love it for so many more reasons than I did when I first had it etched into my pasty arm, beyond the obvious I still like the way it looks. For a start, it was the first day I met the amazing woman who is now my wife. For another, it represents my disability positive career turn and reminds me every time I glance at it why I am doing what I am. Lastly, it has been a huge confidence boost for me and the way I embrace my difference.
When I first did it, I talked about how it helped me define my disability. Here is a snippet from that original note:
And so my tattoo is my way of taking control of my disability and my identity. I am branded now, but not by society, but by my own choice. My disability does not define me, I define it. My physical limitations are most certainly still here, but I have grabbed my disability and made it a trait to embrace. The tattoo, to me, represents a very true part of me. Yes I have a disability, but on my own terms.
In reading this over again, I am struck at how this was really the seed of disability positive thought in my head. It was the step I needed to take to start this amazing road that I am now on. As I look at the tattoo now, I feel that same empowerment and strength, it has just reached a new level. I have now devoted my career, and taken the leap as an entrepreneur, in large part thanks to that tattoo and the way that it allowed me to be truly empowered.
Let me be clear that I am not saying to be disability positive you have to have it inked in your skin. But whatever you draw empowerment from, hold on to it and celebrate it. Whether it is a family member, a movie or even a particularly hot article of clothing, embrace the feeling that it gives you. It just so happens that my mark is a tattoo. And as I look at it, I can’t help but wonder…if one splash of ink can lead to a whole career and identity, what could a second one do?
But I suppose that is a thought for later…