I had a fairly good childhood. I was bullied a bit in elementary school, but as far as bullying goes it was pretty mild. In high school I became sort of a floater. I wasn’t really popular. I didn’t get invited to the “cool” parties and the in- crowd didn’t spend much time noticing I was alive. However, I wasn’t really unpopular or “weird” either. I mean I was weird, totally weird, but bullying wasn’t a huge issue in my school and I wasn’t that kind of weird. I had groups of friends from a few different cliques, but I never really felt like I fit in 100% to any of them. Although I was generally liked, I felt a bit like an outsider a lot of the time. This feeling intensified as I struggled with depression and grief. When I developed asthma I inched a bit further outside of that “normal” range. I thought I understood what it meant to be the one that didn’t fit in. That was until I moved to Mexico. Now fitting in has taken on a whole new meaning.
When you have anxiety, stability is the key. Too much change, too quickly can send you into a tailspin. When Jay and I move to Mexico for the winter I notice that it always takes me at least a week to adjust to my new surroundings. But, even then, Mexico is far more anxiety inducing to me than Canada. Many factors contribute to this, but the biggest one is not speaking the language. I’ve been learning since our first trek here in 2012, but I find languages difficult. As ironic as it is seeing that I am an English major, ask any of my French teachers and they’ll corroborate my story. Math, science, history, no problem, but ask me to speak in a foreign language I seize up. I suspect it comes from my desire to do everything perfectly. I tend to learn on my own and only show others once I’ve mastered it. I hate looking “stupid” in front of others. Which poses a problem when learning languages, since the best way to learn them is to speak it with natives and practice, practice, practice! But I’m tired of not being able to be myself in Mexico so this year I’m going to change some things.
It’s human nature to want to avoid things we don’t want to do or to make up excuses for why we failed. Everyone does it, but people with disabilities have an obvious cop-out just sitting there waiting to be used. It would be so easy to blame everything on one’s disability. Perhaps it’s because there is still a lot of misinformation and stigma surrounding disability, or maybe it’s because those without disabilities just feel awkward talking about it, but it’s certainly easy to get away with playing the disability card.
You know those moments in life when you know exactly what you have to do to be happy or to accomplish your goals, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it? Well, I’m having one of those weeks.
Let me back up just a little. As someone who’s struggled with OCD most of her life it should be no surprise that sometimes I have a hard time letting things go. My brain often moves a mile a minute and I can’t stop thinking about everything I don’t want to be thinking about. When I was young I’d often think about things I knew were “bad.” Whenever I was bored or had nothing else occupying my brain, the “bad” thoughts would creep in. Perhaps that is why in high school I was a part of about 7 different clubs and activities. I worried that they would never go away. But, over time, with some work, they left and have yet to return.