This past week, a colleague (close friend) and I were having a conversation, in person, something we had not done since Mid-November. She told me about a program that she had discovered, through a friend, that would have been perfect for her. However, she did not pursue it because the application process was all digitized. For many of us, that would not be the deciding factor to apply or not, but for her, it was. She is completely overwhelmed by any form of technology.
I encounter this type of story more than you can imagine. Avoidance of the things we find hard comes into play for everyone. As a society, we tend to separate into two categories: "abled" and disabled. I believe that, even if we are considered "normal," we all have some form of "disability" simply because each of our brains works in unique ways. This means we are all avoiding and missing out on opportunities that would otherwise be perfectly suited to us.
When my friend told me this story, I immediately said, "dang, if you had told me, I would have helped you fill out the application." It breaks my heart that in so many cases, instead of seeking assistance, because we feel stupid or don't want to appear "helpless," "lazy," or like a "cheater," we give up on our dreams.
I blame our reluctance to ask for help on our culture. 1) The very foundation of our educational system rests upon coercion and control, not trust. 2) We are a nation that touts independence, competitiveness, resilience, grit, and determination as positive character traits, despite the first point (more than a bit hypocritical in my thinking). 3) We view disability as something to "reform" to fit into the "normal" world. 4) When people use "hacks" or accomplish something in a way that is different from the "norm," we accuse them of cheating and laziness - which are bad(!) and to be avoided at all costs!
What if, instead, we: 1) trust that everyone will accomplish what they need to do 2) expected people to ask for help when they require it 3) saw all humanity as simply differently-abled and adjusted our reality to accommodate everyone 4) normalized "hacks" and abolished the concept of cheating from our cultural understanding?
I believe our world would be a different place, one filled with engaged, community-minded folks happily discovering and following their purpose. Some would accuse me of aiding and abetting lazy, no-good cheaters or maybe even seeking utopia. I still say, "So what, wouldn't it be worth it to try?"
This past week, it was amazing to see everyone in person for the first time in 5 months! We are grateful for the technology that allowed us to meet virtually - however, nothing beats talking to your friends, goofing around, and generally sharing our lives while we are all in the same physical space.
DRC is accepting members for the 21/22 academic year. We look forward to hearing from you. You can visit the DRC website to learn more about all of our programs.