My experience at an Arizona Polling Place

An open letter to the lady in the polling line,

Okay I get it. Polling lines are ridiculously long and I respect the fact that you have “been waiting in line for over an hour in the sun” but that does not, under any circumstances give you the right to be all high and mighty when the polling place workers ask you if I may go in front of you because of my disabilities. I’m not able to stand in line any longer after being here for an hour, and asked if I could be moved up just a bit or have a chair. And just because I am “so young” does not mean I am not disabled. To all those that don’t understand invisible illnesses, I may look young, I may look healthy, but getting up in the morning is a obstacle I have to face every day. My life isn’t easy, and I make the best of it. But people like you, with your narrow minded opinions and views are some of the things I must fight every day, and yes I can still hear your mean comments behind my back.

I almost gave up because of you. I almost said,  “You know what it’s not worth it to be looked at or to be talked about like this to vote. I don’t need to go through this. Then I stopped my self, and in the span of a few breaths realized that this is just one more obstacle in my life battling my disabilities. After taking that moment, I lifted my head and decided that I will not let people like you bring me down. I will not let my disabilities get the best of me, and I promise even people like you, to not use my disability as a crutch. To everyone else- vote. Go to the polls and make those polling lines ridiculously long. Do your civic duty and work towards making our country move in a positive direction. And please remember to be kind.

Sincerely,

The 23 year old with Lupus, Fibromyalgia and faces discrimination everyday, I forgive you.

My experience at this polling place was not the first time I have encountered discrimination for looking like I’m not disabled and I know it definitely won’t be the last. Every time I park in a handicap parking spot, or sit in a handicap spot at a show, I endure the disdain and hate of the people around me. The whispered insults and people who assume that just because I “look normal” means I am just being a jerk and using this space because I’m lazy. I have fought this my whole life, trying to explain to friends why I don’t want a hug, that I am in pain and cannot stand to be touched. Trying to explain to teachers, coworkers or employers why I have to use a cane on some days or am not able to hand write my notes. I have dealt with these doubts, taunts and bullying for over a decade, and yet I still get up in the morning and face a new challenge everyday. So for those reading this:

To those with disabilities- own your life, your body and your illnesses. They do not define you, they make you stronger, make you fight for the things your believe in, and never make excuses. Do not allow your disability to run your life or to bring you down. You are not your disability. You are a strong capable person who must overcome some incredibly difficult life circumstances.

To those without disabilities- if you see someone doing something that you have a negative reaction to, I implore you to take a moment, switch gears and wonder about that person’s life circumstances. Be kind, be open-mind and most of all, be giving.

To everyone reading this- Do not sit idly by and let hate and discrimination take over our world. Stand up for what is right, what is good, and what will unite all of us in this country. Stand up for yourselves, your friends, and the stranger on the street. You never know what someone is going through, and sometimes, the smallest thing such as a smile or s helping hand can make a world of difference to someone like me.

Finally, to the Poll Workers at The American Legion Matthew B. Juan Post 35 specifically Mr Russell- the kind man who stood up for me against a handful of people, thank you. Thank you for believing in me, and for doing something not many people would do. You are the kind of person I hope to become. May you have a great life and I hope to one day pay back the kindness you offered to me.

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