Celebrating My Accomplishments as a Person With a Disability
Many times as I scroll through my news feed, I see articles featuring people with disabilities saying “Don’t recognize my accomplishments as special because I have a disability!” While that is certainly a valid truth, and generally those with disabilities don’t want extra acknowledgment, that does not mean we should diminish our own accomplishments.
Everyone with a chronic illness I have spoken to struggles greatly with feeling as if they don’t do enough, myself included. Maybe they didn’t get the house as clean as they would have liked, or maybe they couldn’t make it to an event because they had a flare. We often have to bail on events or let a few things slide so we can allow ourselves some semblance of rest and comfort. We spend much of our lives trying to at least somewhat resemble those who don’t live with chronic illnesses. The last thing we want is to be glorified for doing things our healthier counterparts manage to do on a daily basis.
Could we be short-changing ourselves? I’ve noticed a trend of those with chronic illness being indisputably harder on themselves for their shortcomings, while denying that their accomplishments are anything more than managing to be a regular human being. The stigma of being overtly noticeable for achieving something based on a disability is insulting and offensive. But where does this leave our attitudes towards ourselves?
We deserve to feel special for our achievements. I’ve watched this inner conflict about being “inspirational” because of a disability cause many people to downplay their amazing feats. Some days just getting out of bed is amazing. You cleaned a room in the house? Amazing! You took care of kids today? Solid determination there! You won a contest? You are awe-inspiring. Is it because you have a disability? Well, yes and no. You may push through fatigue, pain, brain fog, depression and anxiety every single day. Every time you open your eyes and face the day, you are achieving something special.
You weren’t given a choice whether to have a disability and live with these challenges. That does not make your strength and determination any less remarkable. You don’t have to identify as a warrior, or a victim, or disabled. You can simply identify as yourself, whatever that entails. You make the decision to push through every single day. That day may even involve tears, panic attacks, or screaming, but you still made it through.
I support anyone who rejects a victim mentality and just wants to live however they must to feel good. Just be careful not to allow that to cloud your celebration of the amazing things you do every day. You don’t have to be disabled, nor do you have to be healthy to genuinely feel pride in yourself. You don’t even have to feel terrible about yourself if all you did was open your eyes and breathe today. In a world like ours, even that is huge. Celebrate every morning you wake up, celebrate when you earn that award, celebrate when you manage to laugh, and celebrate being you. That is the most beautiful thing you could do for yourself.