“I never saw one like that before”

That phrase, word for word, has been applied by the disability expert to my disability test results at college and the audiologist who fitted me for a hearing aid. “I’ve seen that pattern but never to that degree” came from the psychologist, 35 years in practice, who finally diagnosed my learning disorder. I’m used to other versions of the same idea.

My alcoholism/addiction is exactly what every other alcoholic or addict has; my learning disorder, while rare, still resembles that of plenty of others whose brains have the same malfunction; and my human needs are pretty much the same as others’, although I find my own balance. All the same, please remember that when you look at me, you never really “saw one like that before.” Making any assumptions about my feelings, ideas, or needs based on some “standard” person in your mind will not endear you to me. You will not get my vote based on my demographic, your excess possessions may not meet my needs, and your unspoken expectations for my behavior will probably result in failure.

In my case, I have asserted this enough times that some of the people close to me have recognized it and try to see me as a whole, unique human being. Thanks to those who do that, even if you do it imperfectly.

There is a punch line here, though. DNA experts have discovered that not even identical twins are truly identical genetically, and they have different experiences and ideas to shape into their selves. Each of us needs to remember that each of the billions of other people on this planet has his or her own experiences, conditions, strengths, drawbacks, and feelings. No matter who you see, you never saw another one like that before. That’s beautiful.

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