When I chose the name for this blog I’ll be honest, I was primarily trying to be clever. Bif: a person with Spina Bifida (me), In Medias Res: Latin “into the midst of everything”, as a nod to both my comm major and creative writing minor in college. If you’d asked me six years ago, I would have told you it was the best thing my brain had ever come up with, my pinnacle. Nowadays I still believe that to a point. But the moniker has come to mean so much more to me than a pun.
It was a slow process, starting with realizing I could make Bif In Medias Res my online brand. Thus followed a Twitter, tumblr and gmail account all bearing the same name. I enjoyed how streamlined and connected it made my online presence feel. And it afforded me some anonymity if I wanted it. I didn’t have to be Syd or Sydney. I could be Bif.
But beyond that the meaning behind the phrase continued to sink deeper into my understanding. I realized that what started out as a silly pun had some serious truth behind it. Spina Bifida isn’t something separate from me. I can’t turn it off or pack it away somewhere. It’s not something I take off and put on every day. It’s something I am. It’s me; I am Bif In Medias Res.
There are probably some readers cringing about now at me defining myself by my disability. But let me ask you a question, why is that a bad thing? Spina Bifida has undoubtedly shaped my entire life. It informs almost every single decision I make in my everyday and long term. This has its negatives, sure, but it also has incredible positives.
Growing up the way I did taught me strength, resilience, compassion. It also gave me a jumpstart ahead of my peers in some areas. I was learning creative problem solving alongside multi syllable sight words. Being disabled, where many can only see a deficit, I see a list of lessons and skills that have carried me through life.
Being disabled has also given me a community I wouldn’t otherwise have. The shared experience of being disabled is something that I hold so dear as I get older. The same can be said for the history and culture we share. These things are so precious to me and I wouldn’t have them if I weren’t disabled.
We are taught by society that there is shame in being disabled, in being other. Well I am proud to be disabled, but I refuse to be ‘othered’. I will not let society dictate my place in it based on some arbitrary calculation of my worth and value. I know my worth. I know my value. It’s time society learned.
I’m Syd. I am a Bif in the midst of everything. That’s not changing anytime soon.