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Why I Don't Mind Being an Inspiration as a Person With a Disability

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“I am not your inspiration.” This is a phrase that is becoming increasingly popular among the disabled community. But if I’m being honest, I couldn’t disagree more. It’s not that I don’t understand where people are coming from. I most definitely do. After living for nearly 20 years with a rare neuromuscular disorder, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), I completely understand the desire for our lives to be seen as what they are to us. Normal.

I can see how to people on the outside our lives seem pretty different, but to us this is just day to day life. To me, it’s normal to use a breathing machine at night. It’s normal to receive nutrition through a feeding tube. It’s normal to take time out of my day for necessary breathing treatments. It’s even normal to have someone else brush my hair and wash my face. This is just my average, everyday life. So I get it. I’m in the same boat. It would be kind of nice if people didn’t make a big deal over when I leave my house with wheelchair, nurse, and medical equipment in tow.

But at the same time, why shouldn’t that be inspiring? To me none of this is out of the ordinary — but to someone else, someone I might not even know, this is extraordinary, and it might just be what they needed to get through their day. And if seeing me living my normal life gives someone else the courage that they need, or inspires them to try a little harder or be a little better, or makes them get out of bed and say, “Well, if she can do this life thing, than surely I can too,” then I cannot be happier.

I will never tell you I am not your inspiration, because everyone needs something or someone to inspire them. And if I am what inspires you, then I will be your inspiration in a heartbeat.

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Originally published: June 7, 2017
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