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Speaking Human-First with Mary Knox Miller

EP 1.4 Britt Belwine

The Resilient Power of Disability

Original Air Date

July 13, 2023

If you could change how people think about an issue, would you? 

If that shift required you to be radically visible–to share your personal experiences and speak up on behalf of others, regardless of what people thought about you–would you still do it?

Disability justice advocate and disabled law student Britt Belwine wrestles with these questions regularly as she weaves together information, activism, and personal experience on her TikTok and Instagram feeds.

Britt was born with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and has been managing its impacts on her body for her whole life. In 2020, after numerous surgeries and learning how to walk again – twice! – she logged onto TikTok and started talking.

In the three years since, she has amassed over 80,000 followers. But the number she cares most about is how many leaders, allies, and advocates she can encourage to blaze a path so that others don’t have to.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How the steady accumulation of experiences of being denied access and accommodations led Britt to speak up for disability justice

  • Why Britt advocates for a broad definition of disability - legally and practically

  • Why it’s important that allies work alongside disabled people, not attempt to speak for them

  • Why Britt says that video and TikTok are such powerful tools for connection and education

  • The questions Britt asks herself when considering what about her life she wants to share

  • The experiences and education that prompted Britt’s enrollment in law school and advocacy for prisoners

  • How facing her physical vulnerability and mortality has impacted Britt’s mission to do work that is meaningful

Learn more about Britt Belwine:

Learn more about Mary Knox Miller:



EP 1.4 Britt Belwine

Disabled law student and disability justice advocate


Mary Knox Miller:

Welcome back to Speaking Human First, a podcast that explores the art and science of communicating world-changing ideas. I'm your host, Mary Knox Miller, and today I want to start by asking you a few questions.

If you could change how people think about an issue, would you? What if that shift required you to be radically visible, to share your experiences and speak up on behalf of others regardless of what other people thought about you? And how do you measure time and think about accomplishing everything you want to in this life?

These are questions Britt Belwine has wrestled with.

A disabled law student and disability justice advocate, Britt was born with a chronic illness called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that affects connective tissues, leading to overly flexible joints and stretchy skin. But it wasn't until she turned 19 and required multiple surgeries that she realized just how inaccessible the world is.

After regaining strength and learning how to walk again twice, Britt decided it was time to speak up. In 2020, she logged into TikTok and started talking. She weaved together information, activism and personal experience.

In 3 years, she's since amassed a following of over 80,000 people, but it's not followers she's after. It's leaders, it's allies and advocates willing to blaze a path so others don't have to, and she's leading the way for the disabled in whatever form your disability comes in.

In particular, she's working with disabled prisoners and advocating for an end to solitary confinement. This woman is unstoppable and also very forgiving of an interview host battling a head cold. Let's get to it.

Britt, thank you so much for speaking with me today. Ever since I heard you speak live on a panel about disability rights a few months back, I have just been so excited to have this conversation. You speak with such passion and such conviction and I'm excited to introduce you and your ideas to this audience. So thank you so much for being here.

Britt Belwine:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.


At the start of every conversation I ask my guests, where did the [inaudible 00:02:31] in your belly come from to speak up about whatever their area of expertise is.

Today we're talking about disability and in your case, you identify as a disabled law student and disability justice advocate. So you intimately know this lived experience. So if it's okay with you, I'd like to stretch that question a little bit further and ask when was the moment you decided to step into the spotlight and up to the microphone? And why?


That's such a great question. I think for me it was very much sort of a slow burn and then a spark all at once.

So I was born with the genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and I always lived with this chronic illness but didn't really begin to understand myself as disabled until I was about 19 and my health just sort of deteriorated very quickly and led to a very spontaneous dislocation that sort of destroyed the ligaments in my knee. And I learned I was going to have to have multiple surgeries. I learned that there was some complications from the original injury that was going to cause a chronic nerve pain condition, and I was all packed and ready to go. It was five days before I was supposed to move into college. And I remember getting on the phone with my college and trying to explain what had happened, what was going on and what I was going to need in terms of accommodations in order to get to school that year.

After talking for a few minutes, the person on the other end of the phone said, "Look, if I can just be honest with you, please do not come to school this year. We cannot accommodate you and we will not accommodate you. We're not prepared to handle students with disabilities like that, and we think it would be best if you took a year off and tried to come back next year instead."

I was just so taken aback, so astonished. I thought, aren't there like laws about this? Aren't there rules about this? Surely they have to accommodate me and surely I'm not the only student with a disability that has ever tried to attend this institution.

But I took that year off, I spent a lot of time undergoing surgeries in and out of the hospital and came back to school to start my first year the next year and was hoping that would sort of be the end of it. But unfortunately it wasn't. I was using a wheelchair and a cane at the time. And from the very first day just saw how inaccessible campus was and how inaccessible really the world was.

And I think that over time, just so many moments of being denied access, of being denied accommodations, of being told that if I needed accommodations that I didn't belong in college, at that university, or in so many different spaces really is what sort of struck the match that I think started the fire for me and convinced me that this is something that isn't just going to go away. This is something that is affecting not only me but so many other disabled people and I can either ignore it and try to push through it for myself, or I can try to do something about it and make the experiences, hopefully for the people who come after me, a little bit better.

And I think that's also very much what encouraged me to step up, as you said, into the spotlight to talk about this publicly. I had this feeling that if I don't have the privilege of being invisible, if I'm going to be somebody that people look at and see as disabled and make assumptions about that, I might as well be radically visible about it and use that visibility to start conversations and maybe even to change the conversation and hopefully give other people the courage and the space to share their own experiences and feel more comfortable talking about so many of these disability issues that we feel so uncomfortable sharing.


Absolutely. And it's not like these experiences that you've had, this wasn't decades ago, this was recent. We're not talking about eons ago, we're talking about maybe just a few years ago.




It's incredible because everybody has a different perspective or understanding of disability, everybody sees and thinks about it in different ways, but you would think that there would just be a common baseline understanding of needs, physical, mental, otherwise. So your ability to radically step into the spotlight, you're like, "Well, I'm going to be here so let's just go all out," which is phenomenal and I want to talk about what that process has been like to be in that spotlight.

But first again, just to get a baseline going for everybody who understands, and I know it's coming because we've spoken before and it's not all doom and gloom, and you are actually most grateful for the conditions in which you find yourself.

But before we get there, if you don't mind, since you are giving voice to those who are disabled, how do you define disability and what do those without disabilities need to understand?


Yeah, I tend to take a very broad definition of disability. I actually really like the definition in The Americans with Disabilities Act, which as you were saying, talking about how all of these experiences are very recent. I don't think a lot of folks realize The Americans with Disabilities Act was so recent. It was only passed in 1990, it's only 33 years old. So disability rights, the movement is so much younger than people expect. And these advances and in legal protections are so much more recent than people expect.

But the ADA defines disability as, "A condition that significantly limits one or more major life functions." And it was written to be very intentionally broad because disability advocates who are involved in shaping this legislation wanted it to cover as many people as possible. And I think that's really, in my opinion, the best way to think about it.

Disability is a broad spectrum and because of the stigma that we have about disability, non-disabled folks or also people who maybe don't realize they're disabled, tend to think of disability as a very narrow category of you're blind, you're deaf, or you are paralyzed. That's kind of the range. That's what people think of when they think of disability.

And I remember that even when I was using a cane, even when I was using a wheelchair full-time, there would be people who would say to me, "Well, I don't think you should call yourself disabled. I mean, I don't think of you as disabled." Or "You're not disabled, you're just differently abled." They would use this sort of euphemistic language to sugarcoat it and avoid this word, disabled, that they were taught to think of as this really scary negative thing.

And I think it's because these societal expectations of what disability is are so narrow, we think of disability as a tragedy. We think of it as something that has to be overcome, that has to be shameful, and it's really just a different way of being in the world. It is a form of diversity. It is very natural. Almost all of us, if we live long enough, will become disabled at some point in our lives. And so I think when we think of disability as this broad spectrum of including everything from depression and anxiety to folks who wear eyeglasses, who have low vision, to folks with chronic illnesses, who use mobility aids. When we're very inclusive of disability, I think we shake off some of that stigma.

But I think it also, my hope at least is that in doing so, we encourage people to feel comfortable identifying as disabled and asking for what they need. Because the more we take power in that identity and the more we are comfortable acknowledging what we need and what our access needs are, the easier it is for us to advocate for lasting changes.

And as far as what I think I would want non-disabled people to know, I think first and foremost that disability isn't a tragedy. And it also isn't a story of inspiration. It is just very much a way of existing and being in the world and engaging with our bodies and our minds. I think so often, non-disabled people assume that disabled people should be pitied. They feel bad for us because of what we go through. They feel bad for us because they can't imagine being disabled. And I want people to know that we don't need pity, we don't need to be viewed of as a special story or tragedy or superhero.

What we need is support. What we need is allies. What we need is access. I think we need people willing to fight alongside us and also to trust that we know what we're talking about, that we have agency, that we are independent, and that when we talk about disability justice, about disability rights, that they can trust our experiences and trust that agency. And they don't need to be our voices. They just need to stand and fight along with us for these basic human rights.


Absolutely. And you don't realize how basic they can be and need to be until you're perhaps put in that position, even if only temporarily.

Speaking of advocating, I want to turn now to how you've been communicating out in the world, which is TikTok. You have amassed of following over 80,000. And specifically as we're recording this in June of 2023, it's peak travel time. And I remember not too long ago, you posted about this experience of trying to board a plane and you were given access to board early, but then people were making comments about, "Oh, I don't think you really have a disability." And then you get on TikTok and you're talking about all this and all of a sudden everybody's in an uproar and it's just incredible.

So you have amassed this massive following on TikTok and you speak openly about your lived experience. So my first question is why TikTok?


I very much, I think everybody else landed on TikTok sort of by accident in 2020. I had been doing a lot of disability organizing and education on Instagram and Twitter and connecting with other disabled folks and communities on there. And when lockdowns started, it was like, everyone's downloading TikTok. What if I just do that as well? And I had mostly been thinking of just watching my friends' videos, keeping in touch while we were all indoors.

And I had posted a video one day talking about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, talking about disability, and was kind of surprised by the massive response that it got. And seeing so many people, especially a lot of younger people, teenagers saying, "I've never heard anybody talk about this before. I have this condition, or I have a chronic illness, and I've just never seen anybody else with that experience." And I think that was a moment for me of, okay, this can be a new way to connect with people and this can be a way to reach an audience that maybe I wouldn't have reached before.

And so I started sort of taking it more seriously at that point and thinking about how I was going to be creating content and engaging with people. And I think what's so unique about TikTok for all of its flaws, it's a very imperfect app. But what I think makes it unique is its algorithm where you are shown videos not only of people that you are following, but kind of shown videos at random in the for you page. And so it's a lot easier as a content creator to reach people that aren't already in your orbit but maybe have liked certain content or followed people or whatever the algorithm needs to get it on their feed. But it allows you to reach a new audience much more easily and it allows you to get people in the conversation that might not have been exposed to this conversation before.

And so I think TikTok has been so great for educating and raising awareness for other folks, and I think it's been a nice mix of the video that you mentioned, talking about the comments that people were making in an airport, had a mix of folks saying, "Yes, I also am a young person who uses a mobility aid and gets accused of faking. Or have a disability, and I should use mobility aid, but I'm afraid to because I'm worried that people will say things like this." But also a lot of people who were like, "I've never even thought of this happening before, but that makes me angry and now I'm going to be thinking differently about who can be disabled. And you've challenged sort of my idea about what that might look like." I think its power to start these conversations and bring people into the movement is really exciting and something I really like about the app.


That's fantastic because I love how you're describing not only having a platform to be able to talk with people who are in the disabled community, but advocating for and educating. And I want to hone in on that educating part because I feel like some ways, in most ways that's how the best ideas out there can spread and most definitely can resonate deeply. It's that you're not just shouting into the void, you're talking to people, you're helping them understand and you're doing it in a way that's non-judgmental.

But we can't ignore the fact that TikTok is a medium that is video. What is it about video that you realize in TikTok that you can accomplish that other mediums can't? What is the power in seeing you on camera as opposed to just writing about this experience?


I think there's something about video that is just very human and very personal. When you are hearing somebody talk or seeing them on the screen, I think it just creates that added layer of connection. You're very much seeing them and seeing their personality, and there's also the ability to show life as it happens in a way that feels very authentic.

You can show things ... People on TikTok will do POV, point of view videos, and you can show people what life looks like for your perspective, give people a chance to step into your shoes. And I've seen a lot of disabled folks use that very effectively to say, "Come with me on a journey across my campus or across my town" and seeing all of the different inaccessible barriers that they hit along the way. I think there's a power in being able to just see what life looks like from each other's points of view.

And I think it helps people form that connection of seeing you as a person, seeing you as a friend, or a teacher, getting to interact with you in that very human way. I think it feels a little more real and it feels a little harder to look away from, I think, when people are showing certain experiences that they have lived through, or when you can hear the emotion in somebody's voice or see the expression on their face. I think it just adds a layer of emotion and power. If I can respond to this very intentionally and communicate that through my tone, my body language, how I'm appearing in a video, maybe they will be a little more open to listening. Maybe that'll be a moment that gets them thinking differently.

And it can be difficult. Sometimes I just want to go off and be angry and be frustrated. But I think that video does sort of lend itself to being able to communicate in a way that eliminates the ambivalence of tone sometimes, that you can't always communicate with just text or just a static image.


Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you're putting it all out there.

I love that you were just talking about things like ambivalence, there's no ambivalence in there. You can make a stand, but also trying to figure out boundaries and trying to figure out ... I feel like it's so hard for those of us who have these big ideas, who are trying to promote a certain way of kindness, if nothing else, if it requires us to step up and into the spotlight, it's really hard to navigate.

How do you keep this balance going between, okay, and maybe it's an inching forward process, like a little bit at a time, and maybe you don't show up at the very beginning. I'm thinking out loud here. Maybe you don't show up at the beginning ready to take in everybody's critiques, positive or negative.

But yeah, how do you just balance all of that? How do you figure out what you're going to share, what you're not? Where do you draw the line? And how has that changed over time?


Yeah, I think that's such an important question for anyone who shares any aspect of their life publicly to be thinking about. I don't know if you follow or have seen any of Dylan Mulvaney, who is also on TikTok.




Yes. She's a trans woman who has been sharing her experience and her journey very publicly. And I remember she and Laverne Cox ran into each other at maybe the Oscars or something, and they had sort of a brief conversation where Laverne Cox reminded her, "It's okay to keep some things to yourself and you don't have to share and everything with everyone." And I thought that was very wise and very powerful. And I think it's something that I have been taking to heart as well.

I know that there are things that I'm going to share and overshare in very specific ways. And I think especially more recently, I've tried to be very conscious of the fact that I'm going to be very vulnerable about certain parts of my life. And I think it's important to balance that by finding the things I'm going to keep private and close to my chest.

I know that I'm going to be talking very openly about my health, about experiences in the medical system, about experiences of ableism and navigating disability and thinking about how I interact with my body. And I think I try to counter that by keeping things like personal friendships and interpersonal experiences as something that I can keep private.

My question that I ask myself if I'm sharing something very vulnerable, if I am sharing something very personal, the question I try to ask is, is what I am going to be sharing helpful? Is it something that's going to help people feel less alone or feel more connected or think differently about disability? Or is this something that I just want to vent about? And if it's the latter, maybe this is a conversation that is better to just have with a friend offline. Maybe this is a conversation that is better to have with my therapist as opposed to putting it out for the world to see and interact with and engage with.


Two thoughts immediately come to mind. One is, you're now the second person I've spoken to who says, "Therapy is the way to deal with being in the public spotlight." Wish they had known that before they became known. And second is, I love this idea of deciding who gets what information.

So one of my favorite Michelle Obama quotes is, "We go high, we don't go low." And I recently watched a documentary on Netflix that was part of her book launch, The Light We Carry. And Oprah is sitting there asking Michelle Obama, "It's been a year or two, it's been rough. Do you really always go high?" And she's like, "Oh, no, no, no. I go low, low, low, but only with my family around the kitchen table." And she means that literally family, but also friends, a friend group, a close friend group.

It just resonated deeply with me because I was like, okay, so this is how you can continue to show up as a positive force publicly, but it's not like you're superhuman. We're all human beings. And so we need that space of some kind to vent and to be real, to process.

So as we transition, I want to ask a quick lightning round of questions. Let's take a breath and shake our arms out and relax and have a little bit of fun. Does that sound good?


Yes, that sounds great. Okay.


So who is someone past or present and from any discipline, who's currently inspiring you?


I think somebody who is inspiring me right now, I'd have to go with Imani Barbarin. She is someone who is also doing an incredible amount of work in the disabled community, and she is an expert in communication. And I just love hearing the way that she talks about the world, the way that she makes sense of multiple identities and multiple experiences. I could just listen to her explain the news or explain different policies lie all day. And also, she's hilarious, an incredibly gifted actress and singer as well. Yeah, I have such a fun time looking up to her and learning from her.


All right. Fantastic. So next question, what is your go-to activity to relax and not think?


Oh, I'm such a grandma at heart. I love crocheting. I am always making sweaters and scarves. So my go-to at the moment is to watch really bad reality television to let my brain get a break, and then I give my hands something to do with crocheting, and I can still feel like I'm productive, but there's not a thought in my mind. It's just move the yarn and watch the bad reality television.


I love it. I love it because it's important to have those moments of turning that brain off because otherwise we just burn out.


It is. Yes, it's so important.


All right, last question. What do you wish someone had told you before you became a public figure?


That's such a great question. I wish someone had told me that you don't have to know everything and you don't have to speak on everything. I think sometimes, especially a lot of activists in the public eye feel so much pressure to talk about every single issue. And I think I wish someone had let me know sooner that it's okay to be quiet sometimes, it's okay to say you don't know about something, and it's okay to let somebody else speak on certain issues. I wish somebody had let me know that it was okay to not be the expert all of the time.


I can imagine with this type of work, and especially in becoming a public figure, suddenly you think about not only your voice, but also the expectations and the voice of everybody else. And finding that inner voice, that calm inner voice can be hard. So I love the idea of at a given opportunity, promoting somebody else's voice as opposed to your own if it's not your particular lived experience.

You are not only an activist, an advocate, you are living and breathing this yourself, but you're even going a step further. Can you please talk to us about how you're studying law, how you're advocating for and speaking up for prison inmates with disabilities, and how you're volunteering with the incarcerated population?


I stumbled into prisoners' rights work very much on accident. I was in my first year of college and I was studying human rights, and I really wanted to take a class in the department. And one of the only accessible classes that fit in my schedule period was this class on an introduction to human rights issues.

Every week we covered a different topic. One week we talked about solitary confinement and looking at it from a mental health perspective. And I was fresh off of this year where I was pretty much alone in my parents' house, all day every day, just me and my cat and Netflix. And that year did quite a number I think, on my mental health.

And I remembered reading about solitary and thinking to myself, this makes sense to me. I can't say that that year was comparable to what people in solitary go through, but I was thinking if my mental health suffered that much, when I was in a comfortable house and I had my cat and I could watch television and have real food and not deal with just the horrific conditions people in prison experience, I thought, I can't even begin to imagine what this must be like, and I want to learn more about this. I feel this connection.

And so I started trying to take classes on mass incarceration, trying to learn more about solitary. And through that process, I started doing courtroom support for disabled police torture survivors. And then I took an internship at a legal aid clinic when I was in college because this clinic specifically did work against solitary confinement.

And I was sort of getting interested in law at that point. I was beginning to feel like I have these ideas about changes I want to make, but I don't know how to make them. And I had this intuition that the law might be the path.

And I took this internship and I was paired up with my supervisor who was himself a survivor of 28 years in prison and 23 years in solitary confinement. And I think that that experience of working with him and the friendship that developed out of it really helped me see just how much overlap there is between disability and incarceration. Not only are disabled people overrepresented in the prison system, but prison and incarceration itself are very disabling experiences. No one goes through two decades in prison, especially not in solitary, and comes out of that without trauma, without PTSD, without a lot of things to work through.

And I think that seeing what folks went through inside, seeing how prison disables people, seeing how disabled people are overrepresented in the system, really solidified for me that to be for disability justice is to advocate for all disabled people, especially those of us ... I mean, disabled people get left behind in so many movements.

There's a lot of conversation happening in the disabled community right now about Pride and how a lot of queer and trans disabled folks can't go to Pride, that it's not accessible for them. And that was the case even before the pandemic and even more so after the pandemic, and how we get left behind and left out of spaces that we belong in. Disabled people of color, disabled people who are low income and living in poverty, and disabled people who are incarcerated, who are immigrants, undocumented immigrants. And I think it's really been a strong calling and conviction for me that we can't leave each other behind. And this movement for access and community and safety and care has to include all of us.

And I think it's been very exciting for me to be reminded that the lived experiences I have as a disabled person are a unique strength that I can bring to the work that I do in the way that I connect with clients in the legal field, in the way that I navigate the legal world. And I have an opportunity to make this legal field and the process of trying to get justice more accessible for people who have historically been excluded from it or felt like it was a luxury that was out of reach and not available and not meant for them.


Wow, I'm processing. It's incredible. It's incredible what you're doing.

It also reminds me of this ongoing question that really is what started this whole podcast series. So I created the podcast obviously to talk about the craft of communicating ideas, using different mediums depending on your strengths, depending on how you best show up in the world to communicate out. But I also am creating this because I'm trying to answer a really fundamental question, which is, why don't we see each other as equals? What is it about our society and the ways in which we live that we don't even realize make it difficult for us to look at each other as equals? We're human beings, we're literally made of the same things.

What do you think on that? What's your take?


Yes. I mean, that's the question. Yeah, I think that's the question that keeps so many people who do this kind of work up at night and something that I grapple with. And I remember when you first told me that that was the big question, and I was like, "Oh, so true."

I think that for me, I find that the thing that keeps us from seeing each other as equals is this fear of the unknown and the fear of facing our own vulnerabilities with disability, for example, we want to believe we're invincible as people, especially when we're young. We want to tell ourselves this narrative of nothing bad can happen to me. We want to believe that if anything did happen to us, we would overcome. And so I think a lot of comments that I will get from people on disability and on being disabled, oftentimes as hurtful as they can be, I find that they're probably coming from a place of that person's own insecurity and fear about disability.

When somebody says, "You're too young to be disabled or to be that sick" what that's coming from is a place of like, I am too young to be disabled and to be sick. There's no way that a young, seemingly healthy person can have that happen to them because I need to believe that can't happen to me. And people say, "Oh, you just need to try yoga or try keto. Or if you just think positively, you'll overcome this." That is coming from a place of needing to believe that if they were in this position, if they had this experience, they could overcome it through sheer force of will because they're so afraid of being disabled, of having those experiences.

And I think it's the same thing with incarceration. My mentor was in a gang from a very young age, and there was a lot of stigma around what he was convicted for. And he said, "People find it very easy to assure themselves that they would never be in that position." But he was like, "Until you've lived these experiences of growing up in a place where you didn't see a future, where you didn't have good role models, where the only way to find community or to find safety or to provide for your family was joining a gang, and where you were so convinced that you were not going to live long anyways, and if you did, that you were going to be stuck in a world where you still couldn't provide for yourself and your family. Until you've lived that experience, you don't know what it's like."

And we all want to believe that we're not vulnerable to that, that we wouldn't have that experience. And I think it's our fear of those things that keeps us from really engaging with the experiences of others and seeing them as equals. Because our fears tell us that we wouldn't let that happen to us. We would do better, be better or overcome it because we would be invincible.

And I think the thing that is so powerful about accepting disability is recognizing that we're not invincible and we're not immortal, and that doesn't have to be a bad thing. I think that so many of the most important lessons and views that I have found on life have come from my experiences with pain and my experiences of sort of grappling with my own mortality. I think that pain has a way of illuminating what's really important to us. And it in a way has felt to an extent, very liberating for me to be in a place where I can say, "I know that my choices are going to be limited by my health. I know that I don't have the energy or the ability to do all of the things." So I have to be very intentional about choosing the things that matter to me and being unapologetic in that.

I talk to a lot of classmates in law school who will say, "Yeah, I would love to do public interest, civil rights law. I'd love to be this kind of lawyer, but I want to do this job that I might hate instead because I'll be able to make more money, I'll be able to get a little more stability, have a little more financial security." And I think all of those are completely valid decisions to make and things to be thinking about.

But for me, as somebody who is disabled, who is chronically ill, the thoughts that I have are, "I don't know how long I will have the health and ability to do certain work for." And on a more existential scale, I don't know what my health will look like in terms of mortality. And I don't want to waste any of that time doing something that I hate doing, something that I don't feel excited and passionate about. I have to think about health insurance and my medical debt and all of that, but I want to be conscious of the time that I have and where I'm putting it.

And I think that all of those are very powerful things that come from that acceptance and understanding of I'm not invincible. I'm not going to live forever. I'm not immune to my entire world turning upside down, acknowledging that any one of us can become disabled in an instant. A car accident, a freak injury, a genetic condition we didn't know we had. And I think that that acceptance and that understanding can lead to such a powerful refocus of life and what matters. And I think it helps us to see each other and see this experience we're all going through on a much more equal footing. It helps us to accommodate each other. It helps us to view creating access as a form of love. And I think that in many ways, yeah, it might help us all to see each other a little more equally if we embraced those things that scare us and that we feel vulnerable about.


Absolutely beautiful, stunning words.


Thank you.


You hear cliches all the time of it's in surrendering that you are most free. It is in accepting your limitations and your vulnerabilities that you become the strongest version of yourself. And I have lived through this myself and can attest to all of those things.

Well I was talking with Robert Livingston earlier on an earlier episode, and he was talking about the different levels of self-awareness that people go through, and most people plateau at believing whatever it is that they were told or adhering to social norms. And it's really only those who go through immense hardship and can survive it and come out of it that transcend that level into more of an all-encompassing human first type of approach.

So nobody ever wants to say, "Yes, please give me pain, please give me hardship, please give me discomfort." But it is true that that is what ultimately I think and I believe makes us more human. At least it has through my experiences.


Absolutely agree. I don't think I could ever wish for this to be different, for my experiences to be different. I say all the time to friends, "If somebody came to me tomorrow and was like, "Hey, you can take this magic wand and you'll never have to deal with this chronic pain again," that I might take people up on to go forward, having the kind of energy to do the work I want to do to not continue to drown in medical debt. But I could never go back in time and wish that I hadn't developed these conditions, to wish that I had never been disabled or lived with chronic pain." Because it has been probably the greatest teacher I have had in my life.

And without that, yeah, I think I would be a completely different person. And it has brought me to so many of the things that I love in my life, so many of the people that I love, and so many of the experiences that I'm most grateful for and most proud of. So I think that, yeah, that just resonates with me so much. Absolutely true.


Ms. Britt, it has been an absolute joy. I am in awe of everything that you've been talking about. I cannot wait to see what comes of you in the years moving forward, and all of the doors you are just going to push open, and all the ceilings you're going to crack and just push through.

Thank you again so much for your time, and we will make sure to link to your TikTok and any other websites or anything like that in the show notes to make sure that people can see these amazing videos that you have, this library of content that you have created. It's fantastic.


Thank you. Thank you so much.


I usually end episodes with key takeaways, and believe me, I could talk about the power of video and helping us connect all day every day. But instead, I want to end where we began.

Three questions. If you could change how people think about an issue, would you? What if that shift required you to be radically visible, to share your experiences and speak up on behalf of others, regardless of what people thought about you? How do you measure time and think about accomplishing everything you want to in life?

Until next time.

Speaking Human First is a production of Thought Leader Media, a boutique visual communications agency for socially impact-driven leaders. It's produced by the amazing team at Yellow House Media and is recorded on the ancestral lands of the [inaudible 00:45:05] Nation. Many Indigenous peoples continue to thrive in this place, alive and strong.

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