This was the last week of school for the kids who go to a building to learn. The kids at home will continue their studies with a little more relaxation for the next 3 months. My son Ryan told me this week that he feels like he doesn’t get the opportunity to go on field trips like the kids who go in to school do so we dropped everything Tuesday afternoon and went to a local nature center. There we talked about turtles and nature. It made him feel like I heard him and that what he said mattered to me. He has numerous opportunities to do cool things throughout the year but his perception is his reality. Something my Dad has said my whole life.
He would tell me, if someone else perceives something different then what you do that is their reality and truth. That lesson reminds me to speak and live with intent because perception really is reality and unfortunately we can’t always control those perceptions. The news has been filled with a lot of ideas of perceptions of what it might be to be a transgender person. Although I am no expert on the subject I have been following along with everyone else. I am interested in learning more and understanding what it might be like to live in a body that doesn’t mirror your thoughts and feelings. I have a little more of a vested interest in the Caitlyn Jenner story because I am a Kardashian fan. I watch the show in the evenings and have watched the transition play out over the past couple of weeks.
I don’t have a strong stand either way. I believe that everyone should be able to live out their life in their best self. I honestly don’t care if that requires a sex change, surgery, hair straightening or lipo suction. I think all those things are personal decisions. If getting a tuck here and a nip there makes you feel more confident, healthy and beautiful I am all for it. This crazy world is hard and self confidence gives you strength to live out your story the best way you can.
Most recently I was “introduced’ to 2 teenagers via social media that had transformed their lives by diet and exercise. These 2 young women lost weight, invested in their looks and put themselves out there for everyone to see. Their message was simple, “I wasn’t happy with myself and now I am stronger, more confident and feeling a whole lot better physically.” They wanted to show the world what was possible when you make an investment in a personal goal. Although there were many compliments, there were also those who left messages like “are we really changing beautiful standards or are we asking people with disabilities to conform to the current standards?” That is interesting to me because we watch reality shows where people are battling body image and weight all the time. We celebrate them when they over come and reach a place where they are happy and healthy. I feel like this is a bit of a double standard for these young women who also invested a lot of time in themselves. I mean I have been trying to loose 20 pounds for over a year unsuccessfully. Yet these 2 were successful in achieving their own goals and are being criticized for their personal success. I wonder why that is. I think before they started talking about their successes most would believe that because they have Down syndrome, they would not be capable of meeting personal goals like exercise and fitness. Or maybe they made others feel uncomfortable because they have not tried or been successful at setting the same goals? These 2 girls changed that and reminded our world they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
The media fascinates me. The sound of its voice and its ability to really influence thoughts and decisions of our society. It creates cover stories about people like Caitlyn Jenner, and the young women with Down syndrome and give them a platform to share their story and journey. Some say there are more important things that are happening in the world like orphans who are neglected and children that are starving. They believe the media should be focusing its time on things that they feel matter. I agree. I mean I head up a campaign asking for the media to notice a huge minority of people that are grossly underrepresented but my perception is this. If I want the eyes of this enormous influential voice I have to be creative. I have to give them something worthy to talk about and I will be honest that is not easy. It is hard to make real world problems interesting in a “pop culture” way, but that doesn’t stop me. I spend days and nights trying to develop new ideas that our society might find interesting. I want the media to continue to talk about people with disabilities and their lack of representation in hopes change grows from that.
My suggestion to others who have similar or even different passions is to do the same. Make real world problems interesting, start a conversation about world hunger on a cool platform or design a brand around it. The media is powerful, reach for it and demand attention. Instead of worrying about why one issue is getting more coverage then another start digging. Dig within and get your personal passions heard.
This is such a big world with so much opportunity waiting for all of us but it is not given way. Hard work is required and I believe our generation can change the world as well as perceptions of all types of people just as our predecessors did.