A few weeks ago I had an unpleasent encounter with a lady at the grocery store; the one who remarked, "You forgot to grow." Recently, on a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, I was admiring some artwork in the hallway at the visitor's center when a man greeted me with a nod and smile as he walked by. A minute later he returned and gently placed his hand on my shoulder.
"I had to come back and tell you . . . you have had many struggles, right?" he asked and I nodded, a little wary but not much. "But you don't let it stop you." Then his voice cracked and he broke down. "I think that's great." Then he walked away.
On the one hand it was awesome that he noticed that it is very hard sometimes to explore the world, put a smile on my face and join in on outings and activities even though I'm tired, or go out hiking when I've got these short legs and balance issues while my husband, Jim, and our exchange student, Naja, have long legs and an easier time of it. The elevation at Bryce is a killer for me. I get so out of breath up there, and not just from the breath-taking views! I appreciate when people notice that I'm there, I'm trying, I'm doing.
On the other hand, it feels weird sometimes to be singled out as special. "Oh, you're so brave." "You've got such guts." You don't let anything stop you." "You do so well despite your challenges." I'd love it if they would just smile and say hi sometimes and leave it at that. It would be nice to be treated like anyone else.
But the fact is, I do have issues. I do need help on the hills and narrow paths when I explore. If I didn't get help, I may possible trip on the slightest blip on the path and go tumbling down a mountainside, whereas others would be able to rebound and recover, or may not even notice that blip in their path at all.
We each have our own path to take in life. It is important to choose the one that suits us best as individuals rather than going along with the crowd. Accept and decline help graciously when appropriate. Follow your own path; don't let others choose it for you due to their own stereotypes or limited views, or even those who think, heck, you can do anything and convince you that you should try death-defying feats. Listen to your gut. Live your life on your own terms.