I seem to have to answer no to a lot of the random questions people ask. Strangers like hairdressers, people when you first meet, family I don't see often. Usually my answer to polite small talk questions is no.
"Do you work?" "No." "So you're looking for a job?" "No."
"You married?" "Nope." "Partner?" "No."
"Any kids?" "No it's just me."
"Going on holiday this year?" "No I don't think so."
"Do you drive?" "I'm not allowed due to my disability."
"So did you see Eastenders last night?" "Nah I don't watch it."
I swear the only polite small talk questions I can answer well are the boring British weather related ones. And those "no" answers can shut down conversation. I ask about the other person but it can feel a little one sided and maybe uncomfortable for them.
Sometimes the questions are put in a different way and I can answer them - "What do you do?" is easier than "do you work?" because I can talk about my writing and my volunteering. Sometimes I answer differently - "no, I'm not going on holiday but I've been having a day out a month" means we might talk about where I was and what I was doing. "I don't have kids but I have a nephew."
But the fact of the matter is that those questions are the ones that society expects me to be able to say yes to most of. As a woman in my 30s it's expected that I'll have a job or be looking for one, drive some form of car as opposed to a powerchair, take holidays, be in a relationship and either have kids, be planning for them soon or be definite that I don't want them.
Society doesn't really know what to do with me. I'm very disabled, I
don't have kids but don't rule it out, I don't work and couldn't manage
to do so, I haven't taken a holiday since 2007 and I travel everywhere
by train or not at all. I'm very happily single and don't really want
to be in a relationship. I don't even watch Eastenders!
It almost feels sometimes that those negative answers define me more then who I am.
My friends and family accept and love me for that and I wouldn't change myself. That doesn't mean it's always easy or comfortable polite small talk and quick encounters don't always give time to share who I am and make the positive impression I'd like. I worry that those strangers see my disability and not the girl in the chair.
As I've gotten older I've gotten much happier about that situation. It is what it is and I am what I am. If people only want to ask those questions, judge me by those nos and not take the time to get to know me they aren't worth my worrying about (although I can't always help it).
I'm someone whose always going to have to answer no to the questions society expects. And that's OK.