The Mighty Logo

The Lesson Stephen Hawking Taught Me About Disability

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and I have my reasons for that (mainly, I’m just tired). So why did I choose to break my hiatus to write while in the midst of trying to shake pneumonia? Steven Hawking, one of the greatest minds to ever walk the earth, passed away.

While I am sure Hawking’s pure intellect was enough to inspire anybody towards something bigger or better, that isn’t exactly what I will remember him for. While in my teenage days Hawking fueled both my wonder and bitterness towards the world and universes, as an adult he has helped me to challenge what we consider to be impossible.

I’ve been told countless times by various individuals in my life that because of my disability, I face impossible-to-navigate parameters and boundaries in my life. As Hawking taught us to expand our minds into places deemed impossible by modern science in his lifetime, he also showed we can push the boundaries and limits of disabilities and still accomplish our dreams.

He helped teach me that despite a disability, I can live a fulfilling life.

He showed me that I do not have to be defined by the boundaries placed upon me by others or cultural norms.

He not only taught me to expand past the conceived limitations of my mind and intellect, but my will to contribute to the world.

Steven Hawking left a much greater imprint on this world than his mind. He was much more than his various publications. He was much more than ALS.

Steven Hawking was, when it comes down to it, a fighter and a encourager.

He defied so many odds with ALS for so long — odds most of us with disabilities are faced with on some level. Odds Hawking believed could be beat as he advocated for others with disabilities and the support through healthcare we need.

He was also an encourager to myself, and others I’m sure. It would be foolish to ignore what to me is his greatest accomplishment. He taught the world there is possibility in the impossible. We can hope and achieve a life where the idea of the impossible is overshadowed by the enormity of the possibilities we can achieve with and despite our disabilities.

Follow this journey on An Unsettled Mind.

Originally published: March 19, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home