When I was about six years old, my cousins and I were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Surrounded by friends and family, answers like; “an architect”, “a doctor”, “a lawyer”, went whizzing around the table. I was stumped. I didn’t want to be any of those things, so I just came up with a word I liked the sound of. When I proudly announced that I wanted to be a prostitute, I couldn’t understand why the room filled with a mixture of stifled chuckles and gasps of horror. I had no idea what my chosen profession would entail, but I liked the way it rolled off my tongue.
You’ll be pleased to know I didn’t go down that path – although, there’s always room for a backup plan. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the first woman of the night on wheels, but it’s definitely a niche market. My dad has consistently said he thinks I should set up a ‘disabled brothel’; I don’t know if he means for people with disabilities to use, or for people with disabled fetishes to fulfil their fantasies. I don’t like to think about it too much. And no, before your mind begins to wander, he’s not a pervert, he just has a twisted sense of humour. To put it in perspective, he’s also suggested I rent myself out to people in order for them to get disabled perks – Disney queue jumping and two for one at the cinema. Rent A Cripple may be a sister company to Written Wheel. Only time will tell!
Where am I going with this? Well, the past few weeks have been beautifully chaotic. I am #LivingMyBestDisabledLife to the full. I got myself a dream job with Lincolnshire Young Voices, in which everyone is of the belief that we’re going to change the world. It’s very cliché but you have to go big or go home. My panel launch for Written Wheel went without a hitch; so, once I have an official start date for Young Voices ,(because everything has to sync) it’ll start gaining momentum. On top of that, there’s the masquerade ball and a small gig called TEDxBrayfordPool.
Oh my god, TEDx! Guys, I’m not a public speaker. When it came to my presentations at university, I would hyperventilate in the corner and then stumble my way through whatever it was I had to say as quickly as possible. How on earth am I ending up on what’s arguably the biggest global stage? Actually, I’ll tell you how. It has something to do with my uncanny desire to run towards things that terrify me, coupled with my inability to say no to anything. Ever! It’s an experience of a lifetime and a total honour to be a part of, but it’s like I’ve put myself through a five-week therapy session.
I don’t want to give too much away, because I want you to come and watch in person (click here for tickets) or on YouTube; suffice to say writing about something and talking about it are different kettles of fish. Disability and diversity are topics I harp on about a lot, to the point where sometimes, I want to tell myself to shut up, but no matter how well you know your subject nothing quite prepares you for TEDx.
As I was sitting in rehearsals the other week, literally being blinded by the light and debating quite how far I’d be able to puke, I realised that my migraine was a result of me having to sell my body. I know it’s an odd statement to make. And no, before your mind wanders again, TEDx is NOT a weird cult-like brothel for disabled people, but it is all about selling your story and spreading ideas. With that comes a need for everyone to stand (or sit) in their raw truth and announce it to the world. For me, this is a case of taking my Cerebral Palsy with its ballet shoes, through the ups, the downs and the exciting times to come. It means being comfortable in my own skin; in all the ways CP has affected me, my body and allowing people to gain insight when they hear my unconventional tale. Beyond that, who knows what could happen on the night.
Pre-warning to those of you who decide to be a part of the audience or to those who tune in via YouTube Live Stream…When I start talking about stuffed chicken, rest assured that I haven’t gone completely bonkers. My table plan and menu options for the ball are colour coded like my script. If this happens, please refer to Stephen Hawking’s views on disability.