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Student Voices: Lest you be judged

I am no one. No one cares about how I feel. Those ideas replay in my head every day. You may have guessed already that this is going to be a dark article, but you’re wrong. It won’t be all that dark, I promise, but this is my story of judgments, loss and complete and utter despair brought on by the others around me, by the ones who judged me based on the way I looked or acted.  

Growing up hasn’t been easy for me, and it’s definitely taken its toll on me. I was born in 1995 and taken to Children’s Hospital for being born prematurely, which caused me to be born with twelve and counting disabilities, including Schizencephaly, which is a cyst in my brain. I also had Gastroschisis when I was born, meaning that the insides of my stomach were on the outside. Doctors later sewed them up through my belly button. Additinally, I had Right Spastic Hemiparesis, making my right side contracted, meaning the right side of my body had, and still has, Cerebral Palsy, making it hardly better than useless. Finally, I was born with Syncope, a medical term for balance issues and fainting spells. I won’t name all 12-to-17 of my disabilities, but I guarantee that they’ve made my life a living hell. 

What does that mean, you ask? Well, my disabilities made people look at me differently. I’m sure everyone out there feels different in their own way, but my disabilities felt like the worst of the worst when it came to being bullied or feeling like I didn’t belong.

I remember being judged and made fun of starting in the third grade. Bullies would hit me and punch me. And more graphically, one kid got his jollies by taking my pencil sharpener out of my cubby, rubbing it all around his “male area” in front of me, and then putting it back where he’d found it. On average, he did that three or four times a day. Other bullies harassed me because I had a lazy eye or I was fat, or simply put, they just hated me because I didn’t fit in.

Not only did bullying leave a scar, but my father passed away when I was still in elementary school, which made the bullying even more difficult to handle. It was an ongoing battle all through elementary school, when I would come home every afternoon and vent to my grandparents.

I thought it would get easier in middle school. Everybody from elementary school was a bit older and we were on the right path, and I thought everything would be better. Boy, was I ever wrong. The bullies just got meaner. I recall an incident where I was in gym with my class and the meanest kid in the school came up to me with a jump rope and whipped me over and over again on the sides of my body, leaving me bruised for months. I remember that to this day, and that was like twelve years ago. I can still hear the whiplash those jump ropes made. My grandparents were so furious at the school for letting this happen that they called the police to report it. When the police showed up at our door, they came in and took an incident report and took photos. Next, I think they talked to the kid’s parents. He eventually got in a lot of legal trouble for that.

Finally, I was in high school. Bullies were nonexistent in the way we remember them from middle school. Now the bullying morphed into judging. What I mean is, I was older and no one dared harass me physically because I was a whopping 5’ 10” and still growing. Instead, bullying became something different. People who said they were my friends started judging me in different ways. For example, they wouldn’t talk to me. Most girls wouldn’t date me because I still looked really fat. Plus, I still had a lazy eye, which made it difficult to make new friends.

I still have moments today in 2020, six years after I graduated from High School, where I feel like I’m an outcast and don’t fit in, mostly because I am still judged for my lazy eye, my weight, and my slight limp, and not for the quality of my character. Now, I grant you that it doesn’t happen as much today as it did in high school, but I still feel it and it does still sting. 

My question for all you readers is, have you ever judged anyone based on their looks or their disabilities? I know friends have left me for mysterious reasons but I suspect it’s because of me. This definitely damages my ways of thinking. I think to myself, why did they leave? Was it me? What did I do wrong? It makes me question everything, making me feel like I’m not worth being friends with. But all I really know is that my uncertainty causes me to have little faith in anyone. It gives me trust issues with which almost anyone with noticeable disabilities might relate.

In closing, I want readers to think of one thing before they judge someone with a disability. We face issues every day, little things that make life a struggle, and when people pass us off as “just someone who is disabled,” it hurts. When you see someone who doesn’t fit your standards, think before you judge. It doesn’t even have to be someone with disabilities because, even though I have health issues I’m mostly just a regular guy, trying to handle adulthood, life and family. And when people judge me as “less than” it feels as if I’m getting whipped by that very jump rope that whipped me in the 8th grade. Just keep that in mind the next time you judge.

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