One thing I love about life and the world is how we are all different. There are not two of us 100% identical inside and out. I think the fact that we have different personalities, interests, thoughts and looks, makes this world an interesting place to live.
One of the ways I stand out is my hand tremor that I have as a result of having Arnold Chiari Malformation. Now I bet you have never heard of it and I hadn’t too until I was diagnosed, so here is a bit more information on it:
Thankfully my symptoms aren’t as severe as most but it has led to a lifetime of meeting people who before getting to know me, were more interested in finding out why my hands shake or making assumptions on why my hands shake.
Some of the most common questions I have been asked by strangers are: “Are you nervous?” “Are you cold?” “Have you taken too much of your inhaler?” or just the simple “Why are your hands shaking?” In these situations I have been made to feel like people think it is more important to find out why my hands shake, than getting to know who I am and what I am about.
I think as human beings many of us our visual people and like to question what we can see and we start doing that right away, whether we verbalise those thoughts or not. It normally takes people longer however to start questioning what they can’t see about people and I personally think its what inside of us that is more important, not what’s on the outside.
Because of my hand tremor I stand out and I think the reason people question it, is because we live in a world where the ‘normal’ exists and it seems that there is this pressure to conform to it. I think this unseen pressure stifles a lot of creativity and stops a lot of people from standing out and being the world changers that this world needs.
I’m not making a conscious effort to stand out with my hand tremor; it was just something I was born with, so for that reason I dislike when it is what people notice about me. I want to be noticed for the reasons that I am trying to stand out, not those enforced on me.
I think when you take the opportunity to get to know people on the inside, you get to know the reasons that they want to stand out for, as these maybe quite different than the ways you think they stand out.
I know everyone is different when it comes to the physical ways they stand out from others, some want the chance to talk about it, some don’t want it referenced and some don’t really care. To me I would rather my physical difference was something that I didn’t have to over think, or make a conscious effort to talk about.
Whenever I know I am meeting someone new, doing a presentation or going for an interview, I have to think to myself whether it is best to bring it up in discussion or not. I can’t just concentrate on the situation in hand by itself. The decision I make whether to bring it up or not, can then impact on that situation which I don’t think is fair. Will talking about it put the people I meet at ease? Will talking about it worry people or lead to more questions? Will people be able to work it out for themselves? These are just some of the questions that go through my mind.
I don’t think anyone with something that makes them different from others should be forced to talk about it. I have experienced this many times in my life when I have either been forced or felt forced to mention it and I think this is wrong. People who don’t have conditions like I have aren’t forced to talk about things that they may not want to talk about, so why should I be?
Sometimes I think my hand tremor is the elephant in the room when I am in social situations, which can affect the atmosphere. I should feel confident to go in to situations and it not be something that I was born with that affects the atmosphere. I also shouldn’t have to tell people before I go somewhere “just so you know I have a hand tremor” but sometimes I feel like I have to. My choosing to talk about my hand tremor or not shouldn’t dominate my life.
After saying everything that I have, I am not oblivious to the difficulty people have when knowing whether or not to bring up someone’s physical difference. Being able to figure out whether or not someone wants to talk about it can be very difficult and you yourself shouldn’t feel bad for not doing the right thing if your intentions were good. I just wanted to put you in my shoes and the shoes I’m sure of some others who feel like I do.
My personal opinion is whenever you want to talk about something that makes people different, make sure it is a thing that person wants to stand out for and not what you think they stand out for.