Since graduating from high school in June of 2018, I have felt left behind. In high school, I was more on a level playing field with my peers. I took all of the required classes to graduate on time with my class in 2018. I took the SATs in my junior year of high school and wrote essays for college applications.
I waited anxiously to see if I would get accepted to any of the colleges I applied to. In September of that year, I went off to college at a local university. At first, I enjoyed college. The first PCA I hired was often late, which sometimes meant that I was late for classes. I didn’t like having to worry about whether or not I would be able to make it to school on time.
Having to rely on other people to drive you everywhere gets old really quickly. My PCAs are only scheduled to work a certain amount of hours per day. This meant that if I wanted to stay late on campus, my mother had to drive down to wait around in case I needed her. My mom didn’t seem to mind this, but I felt terrible.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I tried to coordinate a work experience with a local press company. Unfortunately, the woman who runs it works from her home, which isn’t accessible. After this, I began to research the employment statistics of disabled people in America.
The more research I did, the more I questioned my decision to attend college in the first place. In 2020, only 17.9% of Americans with disabilities were employed. My whole purpose behind going to college was to get a job. I began to have thoughts of being an unemployed college graduate because of Cerebral Palsy. I didn’t want to have worked hard to earn a bachelor’s degree only to end up unemployed at the end of it.
Since December of 2019, I have been looking for paid employment. I have been unsuccessful. Sometimes, people are interested in inviting me for an interview until I tell them that I have Cerebral Palsy. I really didn’t want to envision my future as an unemployed, disabled adult. As more and more time has passed, I’ve genuinely begun to wonder whether or not I am worthy of paid employment.
I am a 21-year-old woman. In my opinion, practically every young person my age has worked at some point in their lives. It’s tough now especially given the fact that my younger sibling, who is in high school, works part-time in a fast-food restaurant. It’s just their first job, but still, it’s hard to see my younger sibling become employed before me.
Socially, I feel more left behind than ever before. Many of my peers are in a serious romantic relationship or even married. For most of my life, ableism has made me feel unworthy of having a romantic partner. I wouldn’t want my partner to think of me as a burden. Given that my partner would have to help me with specific tasks like driving and cooking, I wouldn’t want them to become sick of me and my needs. I wouldn’t want them to end up feeling like my babysitter. I’ve always wondered what I’d be able to contribute to a romantic relationship if I were to pursue one.
Since graduating from high school, I’ve felt left behind. Ableism and its impacts on the adult world have made me feel unwanted and unworthy in this world. This mindset has led to severe depression. I’m working on seeing the value in myself because everybody is worthy and has something to contribute to society.
“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2021, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.