Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Fitting in with self-assurance

Meg Casey
December 1, 1982

Two of the questions asked of me and most often deal with self-confidence. First is "Meg, where does your obvious self assurance come from?" And the other is "Don't you ever feel self-conscious in public?"

My instant response is that I am a product of my environment. I come from a very large and proud Irish background. I was reared with a sense of pride in who I am and where I come from instilled in me and I'm honored to bear the family name.

Yet as I finish this declaration, I feel unsatisfied and forced to sit back and look more deeply into my heart for a reason why.

While I sincerely mean the statement and it is all true, I suddenly remember a young a young girl of 11, then 16, then 18. I can now complete the original answer accurately … Practice!

Don't I ever feel self-conscious?

Of course I do! But after 27 years of practicing the act, the lines have become so second nature to me that even I forget that it wasn't always this easy.

I am not a natural. I am well studied.

I have come to realize the secret. The most important person to accept is you.

In order to do that you must be able to take a hard honest look at yourself. Examine at point blank range your physical appearance, as if you were a stranger.

Come to a decision if you don't agree with what you feel is the world’s opinion of your value. Look closely at your own personality, both good and bad points.You are the only one who you're the only one who knows what's in your heart and mind. Keep what you like, change what you can and deal with the rest.

To be truthful with yourself is the hardest thing you'll ever do.

There's no feeling in the world that quite compares with the one that comes over you as every her head turns in all conversation stops upon your entrance enterprise. No one alive is oblivious to that sort of drastic reaction. They dreaded "Pregnant Pause." It lasts only seconds (so they tell me) until mother’s lessons of tact catches up to them like a poke in the ribs but it hurts.

The trick is to appear unruffled by the experience and never let the stuff register on your face. The people who are with you will take their cue from your conduct.

Never remain frozen to the spot, continue to move to the center of the room, strutting a first class act and getting a presidential "genuine" smile all the way.

Heads are forced to turn your way. You are now in control and have become the center of attention on your own terms. You give them so many things to stare at at once that they don't know where to begin.

Keep saying "I'm a damn wonderful person" yourself if you feel shaky and march yourself over and sit down next to the person whose mouth is the widest and look him in the eye.

You can either embarrass him and make an enemy or you can wear an acknowledging grin at having won as you say in the friendliest voice you ever heard "Hi! How are you?" I recommend this tactic. There's nothing more obvious then a person trying not to notice.

Make a friend for life and impress everyone else in the room. The victory you'll have one over your self-control will give you a high for a week. Bitterness only gives small scores and leaves you lonely.

Realize the reality that there isn't person on Earth that doesn’t help know how self-consciousness feels. Is not an emotion unique to persons with disabilities; It is human nature.

Acceptability is what being a social creature is all about. That's why the designer clothing industry is so lucrative; everyone is ”fitting in." (Excuse the pun).

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© 2015 to 2018 site design by Daniel Ortoleva
photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
We did not feel that a disagreement should prevent the public from learning and enjoying these incredible pieces of advice and show they are still relevant to today.