Welcome to my first ever blog. I’m a newbie to this so hopefully I can hit the ground running but in that unlikely event, I know I can always count on one person to tell me they like my blog. Thanks Mum. 💖
It got me thinking about the three years that I spent at the University of Reading and I can honestly say that they were the hardest three years of my life which I’m sure most graduates and students can relate to. But they were also the best three years of my life (so far…). I met some truly wonderful people at uni who I’m sure I’ll be friends with for a very long time, and a few of these I got to share my graduation with. I equally met some not so great people but we won’t talk about them…
Actually, let’s talk about them. I can go on and on about all the lovely parts of my uni experience but you probably aren’t interested in that at all.
If nothing else uni taught me one very important thing: a remarkable amount of people don’t really know how to react to the fact that I’m in a wheelchair.
Even from one of my very first nights out as a fresher I was approached by a guy who decided that if he basically threw his own face in my general direction I would be totally up for making out with him. Because of course, being in a wheelchair, I never get any male attention. 😘 I put this one down to it being a drunken fresher and laughed it off the next day over a cup of tea.
However, this is something that I have continuously noticed throughout my time at university. Even just last week while I was sitting in my procession waiting to be herded off to the Great Hall (yes, of course I go to Hogwarts, where else?) I started chatting to one of the women who was making sure that we all looked suitably ridiculous in our gowns and mortarboards, about the ceremony. I mentioned that my friend (special shout out to Alex👍) was going to help me to make sure I got up the ramp to the stage. This was purely because I hadn’t had a chance to see the ramp before the ceremony and I didn’t know how steep the ramp was going to be. Although I’m sure everyone watching the ceremony would have found it highly amusing, I didn’t fancy getting stuck halfway up the ramp and rolling back down. This lady’s response to my friend helping me however, was that “it was probably a good idea as I didn’t look like I was used to being in one of these”. Now I am well aware that I can be pretty clumsy in my chair/one of “those things”, if you had to do a driving test for wheelchairs, I wouldn’t have passed. Having said that, I have now had a wheelchair for around 10 years. So I would probably say I’m used to it. Just about.
I think the point that I’m trying to make is summed up by one of my clearest memories of a night out at the Student Union (to be fair, the rest are all pretty hazy). I was approached by another very drunk guy who struck up a conversation with me and told me that I’m “too pretty to be in a wheelchair”. Don’t get me wrong I can see his good intention and I took it as a compliment and said thank you at the time. Equally, I was slightly offended on behalf of the rest of my fellow wheelchair users. It seems like we have somehow been stereotyped as complete mingers.
So all this reflecting on my time at uni has driven me to write a blog about what life is like in a wheelchair. But I’m not saying that my blog explains exactly what life is like for every single person with a disability because that’s what I’m aiming to shine a light on. In the same way that we shouldn’t assume that all the people from Wales or all the Christians or all the people with blonde hair live exactly the same lives and have exactly the same attributes; it shouldn’t be happening for disabled people either.
So if you continue to read my future blogs then hopefully you’ll find some of the insights I have into my life interesting. Even if it’s just a blog about my battle to reach the Pringles that were on the top shelf in Sainsbury’s (the struggle is real guys…)