Article 1- March 2023

 Through Julia's Eyes

by Julia Connellis, Executive Director

"I Can. I Will!"


I do not know about you, but I hate first dates! What do you wear? What do you say? How do you end the date if it is going bad? How do you ask for a second date if it is going good? And the scariest part of all, when do you say the “D” word?? For some, sharing about your disability is a no brainer because it is visually obvious. For others, your disability is invisible, so you can hold out a bit longer. Either way, the pressure of dating with a disability is real. 

When I think about my dating experiences in my 30’s and 40’s, it somewhat resembles a video game.  Now don’t geek out on me, gamers… I am talking about old school video games such as the O.G. Mario Brothers. Since I have both visible and invisible disabilities, sharing them with my date is like going through the different levels of the game. Each level is one of my disabilities. Each level gets harder as I share yet another disability and the tension grows. If video games are so much fun, why then does this feel so stressful? 

I told an UBER driver once that dating with a disability is hard because people are afraid of my disabilities and do not approach me. The driver quickly and firmly said “no, that is how YOU perceive yourself and not necessarily how others see you.” A 10-minute ride with a wise UBER driver completely changed my view of dating! How dare I assume what other people are thinking! By assuming, I was doing exactly what I don’t like others to do about me. In March of 2022, I took wise UBER drivers’ advice and entered the dating scene with a fresh perspective. My perspective was this: I want to meet new people and have fun while doing it. Yes, I have several disabilities and, yes, they will present some challenges. My disabilities will also bring opportunities for laughter, communication, and surprises along the way. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t laughter, communication, and surprises something we all want in a relationship? For 9 months now, I have been enjoying learning new things, communicating in new ways, surprises, challenges, tears, insecurity, disagreements, and lots of belly laughs with Wayne.

My dating challenge to you is this- do not waste time assuming what other people are thinking about you or your disabilities. Instead, view your disabilities as if they are the hottest new game on the market, only one was made and you own it!!