B. Being conspicuous in public

My advice

Get used to being stared at, embrace it, enjoy it, take control of it.

My experience

I remember my first trips out in public in wheelchair. I remember feeling very uncomfortable. I remember feeling very visible. I remember feeling that everyone on the street, or in the room, was looking at me.

Initially, for 10 or 15 years, my reaction to this was – ‘well I’m conspicuous anyway so I going to be proud of it’. I got the brightest coloured chairs I could find and wore the brightest clothes I could find. My rationale was –  ‘if everyone is going to look at me I might as well give them something to look at. No matter what I do I can’t be inconspicuous so there is no point trying to just fit in’.

Lots of people in chairs, and with other attributes that make them feel conspicuous, react in this way. In many ways this feeling is understandable, people were, and still do, turn to look as I pass them on the street or when I enter a room. However, after many years I started to realise that people turning their heads in this way was a very temporary reaction, and may even be unconscious. They are actually busy looking for the hottest person in the room, talking to their friends, keeping track of their children, trying to remember where they put their keys, or whatever. They are not really looking at me, I’m just not that interesting.

They may unconsciously turn their head when they see a wheelchair but that is it. Fortunately, or unfortunately if actually want a particular person to notice you, there is usually something, or someone, much more interesting to them than a bloke in a wheelchair.

I came to realise that my feeling of conspicuous visibility was mostly in my head. It was me thinking I was more important than I really am. I had to realise not everything is about me.

This does not mean I don’t get more than my fair share of nutters, religious people etc wanting to talk to me on the street. It does mean that I now just go where I want want, when I want, and behave as if I have as much right to be there as anybody else. I find that when I act like that, people respond in kind and everything is pretty normal.


Outrageous or toned down, people are going to look at you either way. Its a very fleeting form of attention so just relax and enjoy it, or ignore it, depending on your mood.


Here’s what the experts say

CLICK HERE to see a yahoo discussion board that has long string on this issue

Rule number 2 – Confidence is sexy

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