I seem to have a deja vu (Photo: Samantha Renke)

By the end of the year I feel more empty than a baked potato that has been in the oven for too long.

We’ve all dealt with burnout at some point – I’ve even written about how to fight it – and in winter the shorter days, the bitter air, and the cough and runny nose that spread like wildfire don’t help.

But I’m very sorry.

I have a heavy workload because disability “awareness” comes alive from late September to Christmas – there’s Inclusion Week (September 26th to October 2nd), Disability History (November 16th to December 16th) and of course International Day of persons with disabilities December 3.

As a disability advocate and activist, this is the most lucrative and productive time of the year for me.

I am incredibly fortunate to have been inundated with offers to provide disability inclusion and equality training, conference appearances, and keynote speeches – all with the goal of creating positive cultural change that I hope that they will help people with disabilities.

It’s meant to be exciting, to inspire a time when diversity is celebrated and people with disabilities get a chance to just rejoice without apology for being themselves.

But I must admit it often feels like I have the guts to reveal and share with strangers intimate information about my daily life as a disabled woman – including the ups and downs of my dealings with discrimination, the micro-aggressions and my internalized skills exposed in such a vulnerable way.

Still, as a physically challenged woman, I look forward to having a seat and a voice at the table—a time to amplify the voices of deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent people.

I often feel like I’m beating a dead horse, all talk and very little action

I’ve said “I love my job” several times over the past few weeks! and for the most part I do. I love opening people’s eyes to a crippling world and sharing my lived experience.

An artist at heart, I’ve left my previous acting career behind for a new stage and audience – a corporate audience.

This includes working with broadcasters, marketing companies and even law firms. Finally everyone with a disability in mind!

But in between the high energy, I also experienced a new kind of burnout.

Not physical exhaustion, but emotional. Constantly sharing my story about being vulnerable and almost begging the world that I’m worth investing in takes its toll.

I’m a little exhausted, not to mention I seem to be feeling deja vu.

Many of the conversations I had during Disability History Month are the same as last year and the year before.

In fact, I often feel like I’m beating a dead horse; all talk and very little action.

For example, I am regularly asked about the “right” words, as if people with disabilities have a universal language. The fact of the matter is that it is subjective and the only way to ensure everyone is included is to ask each individual what they feel comfortable with.

If a person with a disability isn’t immediately excited about your alliance and integration efforts, don’t be offended (Photo: Samantha Renke)

I am also tired of having to justify my right to work, to live without discrimination.

Disability unemployment is still incredibly high and infrastructure is still incredibly efficient.

On the way to one of my lectures, the taxi driver asked me if I wanted the ramp, as if he assumed I could fly secretly.

It pains me to say this, but even the celebration of the International Day of People with Disabilities fell short in my opinion. I haven’t seen many able-bodied people post about disability on social media, and most of the thoughts came from people with disabilities themselves.

Of course I can’t force anyone to be a cheerleader or an ally, and I appreciate that we all have our own priorities in life, but it’s sad to see very little progress being made in terms of able-bodied people improving their fitness. actually proclaim skills without being asked.

It may seem like every other day is advocacy day, but since one in five working-age adults has a disability, it’s definitely for a good cause.

It’s a tricky balancing act for people like me. Especially since there are many good allies – including companies that live what they preach and don’t see disability as a tick. They advocate for political change and see real value in the power of people with disabilities and what they bring to the world.

Earlier this month, Apple released a phenomenal campaign to showcase accessible technology to people with disabilities that amazed me and met so many of my expectations of where we should be today.

I didn’t expect to see such a diverse cast of people with disabilities who I think truly represent the multi-faceted face of the disability community. It also showed that technology is such a powerful tool and worth investing in.

I still find myself tiptoeing around disability agendas and unnecessarily complimenting the organizations that have helped our community, even if deep down I wanted to scream, “You are still failing us, we have you so much more needed”.

I owe indulgences because I don’t want to derail or discourage the work in progress.

I don’t want to appear ungrateful, and my internalized competence comes into its own when I convince myself that I should be thankful, that I am welcome in parts of society because other parts of my disability accommodate them.

So don’t be offended if a disabled person isn’t immediately enthusiastic about your alliance and integration efforts.

Just raise your hands and acknowledge your activated privilege, appreciate that you are on the right track, but choose to put people with disabilities on this journey so that you stay there.

Let our voices be heard, listen to us and respect that we have so much to offer.

Please understand that it is the job of allies to do their homework for people with disabilities. If that were the case, maybe I wouldn’t feel so burnt out constantly talking about our lives and struggles.

And while I have you, put December in all your calendars right away.

Because I want everyone to recognize the International Day of People with Disabilities next year. Trust me, it will make things so much easier.