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Do You See Me as an Inspiration Because of My Disability?

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I have been disabled since birth and will be for the rest of my life. Therefore, my disability is nothing new, exciting or inspiring. However, I have been and will continue to be considered an inspiration by some people for the rest of my life, as I’m sure others with disabilities will also. People who know you personally or just admire you from a distance may label you an inspiration.

The definition of inspiration is being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. I may inspire you or be inspiring — but why? Because I am disabled and I am doing things you haven’t seen a disabled individual do before? Or is it because you know me personally, know the kind of person I am and what I bring to the world?

While my disability is a trait of mine, it is not what caused my mindset or the actions I take towards being an inspiring person. I feel I am just a woman going through life doing what I have to do like everybody else. I believe we as a society use the word “inspiring” far too often when describing people with disabilities. It gets thrown around too much. I believe able-bodied people use it to make themselves feel better. They may think, “If that person can do it and they have a disability, so can I.” But what they really need to do is look at the real meaning of inspiration and find it within themselves.

If people started to see us for who we truly are instead of labeling us an inspiration at first sight, they might be more willing to find the inspiration in themselves. What we do and how we act is what makes us inspiring people, not that fact that we have a disability. I think if more people truly understood that, they would view the words “inspiring” and “disability” differently and things would change for the better.

Getty image by Victor Tongdee.

Originally published: July 24, 2019
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