How I Handle Staring

The Life of Being Disabled

If you want to stare, I guess I'll give you something to look at.

Staring is something we're all guilty of doing. Hell, even I'm guilty of staring, but I feel as if staring is something we do simply out of curiosity. In my eyes, curiosity never killed the cat... but it simply taught the cat.

Being a disabled person, I get quite a few glances here and there when people see me for the first time and I've had to teach myself that they aren't staring because they're trying to be rude, but they're simply staring because they're curious. Children, especially—like I've said before, they literally just got their brain a mere couple years ago. They don't fully understand why an adult is rolling around in a huge stroller.

Now when it comes to fully grown adults, that's where it gets kind of shady. Maybe they know someone in a wheelchair too, or maybe they're curious as to how I can be so happy being the way I am, or maybe they are just genuinely curious about what happened and why I'm in a wheelchair. Whatever the deal is, I get it. I'm pretty sure if it was the other way around and I was the able bodied person and I saw someone in a wheelchair, I would be curious too and I would probably stare too. However, while I've taught myself to ignore the stares that are piercing into my flesh every time I decide to go out, being stared at can be really uncomfortable. It personally makes me feel as if I don't belong there because of the way I look. Something people really don't understand is how mentally toiling it can be when you catch people staring at you every five minutes. I believe staring is the only real reason of why I'm so self conscious about myself. But over time I've come to terms with this whole staring epidemic and people are going to stare at you regardless because you look different. That's just how it is. So, I just go with the flow. If I find a person staring at me, I try to give a smile or some sort of wave to let them know "Uh, hey. You know I can see you, right?" They usually give an awkward smile back before going on about their business.

Now it was a time where I wasn't so nice about it and I would shoot those people ugly looks because honestly, I was an antsy teenager. What else would you expect? But that wasn't the way to handle it. I've realized that when people stare, they're just curious. It's human nature. They don't mean any harm in looking... They're just curious.

But also just know if you are truly that curious you can always go up and simply ask instead of staring. That works too. I personally would prefer if people just came up to me and asked what's wrong rather than eyeing me down like I have three heads or something.

But in all seriousness, if you ever catch someone staring at you, just try to give them a smile or wave, maybe even speak to them. Chances are, they're not staring to be rude, but they're curious. Also for all you able-bodied people out there, I just want to let you know that it is okay to stare, but only to a certain extent. Please do not stare for a whole 30 minutes, okay? If you're staring that long then, honey, take a picture. It'll last longer. If you're that curious, go up to them and tell them what's on your mind and why you were staring. Chances are that we'll understand and tell you everything you want to know.

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How I Handle Staring
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