I’m 5’9” tall, 155 pounds, dark-skinned with an obvious limp and a cane. So, how can I be invisible? I thought it was impossible for me not to be noticed but I’m treated like I’m hard to see by nearly everyone I pass on my commute.
I’m cut off at staircases, raced to the escalator or elevator, edged out of chairs in the handicapped/elderly section of the subway and commuter train and I’m often scrambling to stop a door from hitting me. Thankfully, my cane frequently acts as a door stopper. It does get kicked, stepped on and knocked down though. But I keep moving.
On the rare occasion that someone glances up from their phone and spots me, I get an awkward smile. Other people stare at me or feel bold enough to ask me, a perfect stranger, what’s wrong with me. Instead of seeing me as a whole person, those people only see the results of decades of living with an autoimmune disease.
Like a superhero in a comic book, I’ve chosen to see the condition I’ve been cursed with as a gift. I’ve turned my illness into my superpower. I use it to make people stop, be more considerate to the disabled and to learn more about autoimmune disease and chronic illness. I also show people that mental and spiritual strength can overcome any problem with the body. And, perhaps more importantly, I try to shine as a beacon for embracing the skin you are in, helping others who are less fortunate and using your talents to shine a light on injustices.