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Know Your Worth

I attended an art festival yesterday in the town of Rising Sun MD where I was a vendor. I had a wonderful time and it was very successful. I met some incredibly nice people, and a few who only saw me as a vegetable. I enjoy reading people; that's one of many reasons why I find the field of Criminal Justice so interesting. It's amazing how people reveal their true thoughts and feelings through their comments and body language. I feel I'm pretty good at it for the most part.

In a situation like yesterday, I try to draw people's attention to me as a person by shouting hello, though that doesn't always work. I can't raise my voice loud as hard as I might try, so I ask my friends/helpers to sort of be my voice in drawing people in. Some don't even see me until halfway through my pitch, and then they are in awe of everything I can do. When they hear my story it changes everything because they realize I am a high functioning artist full of potential.

Then there are others who do talk but they talk about me like I'm not sitting right there. Some try to engage but say things that are ignorant and at times hurtful. One woman did stop at my table and when my friend explained that all of these art pieces and handmade items came from me, she said to my friend, "at least it gives her something to do." I am certain that this lady meant no harm in that comment, but that didn't make it hurt any less. "At least it gives her something to do." As in, at least she has something to live for because, surely she has a life with no other purpose. That's most likely not how she intended that expression to come across, but unfortunately, many people have an idea that special needs individuals have no purpose. I would even dare to say that for many it's a subconscious ideology.

Don't misunderstand me: there are several kind people in this world who have a certain respect for our kind. Unfortunately, though, there are still several individuals in this world who look down on those of us who are different. That which is not easily understood is often looked upon with confusion or even disdain. We won't fit inside their pretty square boxes with big bows on top. Maybe that can be scary, or maybe some don't want to take the time from their lives to get to know what we're really like. While that's they're choice, it does nothing to help curtail the "us vs them" mentality that ostracizes those of us who who have different special needs.

It's 2021. Shouldn't we be past this by now? Yes, but where there is ignorance there will be division. How can we bridge that gap? It's really rather simple - show love. Show respect, show compassion, and attempt to grow from one another. When we stop and listen to those on different journeys, we learn that we're not so different on the inside. A wise man (or woman) once said "know your worth, then add tax." It starts with us, because we have to show that we have just as much of a purpose in this world than anyone else. The tide will begin to change when we take the first step and show them that we're humans too.

Bye for now,

Amber Stewart

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