Today we will talking about a rather touchy subject, and that is the word “inspiration” when it is used to describe a person with a disability. I’d also like to say a warning before we continue on with the post because I tend to get a little angry with this topic, but only for that it’s super important to show others that because we have disabilities that we do not strive to be an inspiration to anyone. So, I’m hoping you’ll understand where I’m coming from as a person and be able to respect that.
So let’s start with the definition of the word, and I used the first thing that popped up on Google for this.
“A person or thing that inspires.”
The synonyms include “influence and muse” and the first things that came to mind after seeing these two words were: art and blogging. An artist can have a muse or multiple of them for he/she to find a sense of creativity that might be lacking for a piece. Now anybody that is using a platform to promote a product is a Influencer, whether they are a blogger or YouTuber, that is the term that’s generally used online. These are real and true ways to describe a person, but it says nothing for people with disabilities, because there isn’t a word for us. We don’t fit in that box and that is the one thing we’re perfectly fine with too!
For us, it’s all about adaptability. We’ve had to find ways to figure out how to do things on our own without any help. If we want to be independent this is what we have to do in order to achieve that way of life.
Unfortunately, it’s usually the little things that gives us the most praise. For me, it was always my art or being able to grab things in various sizes with my feet. When I was in school, I did enjoy the attention I was getting in art class, but once I got into middle school, if you had the talent you were basically taught to seek out perfection, and whenever I couldn’t get there in the same amount of time as my peers, it really hurt me mentally. It actually took about three or four years after I graduated just to feel comfortable to do art again, mostly painting, and I never enjoyed doing that in school so that worked out well!
When it comes to doing things with my feet out in public, it always a depends on my mood, sometimes I don’t care who sees what I can do, but there are also times where I can sense somebody is watching me. Now I don’t mind children or elderly people staring at me or asking questions, but it’s everybody in between that annoys the crap out of me because that’s when I usually hear the word often. As much as I’d like to look at them and say, “I’m not here to inspire or motive you!” I usually give them a nod or smile to them because I know they’re not doing it to hurt my feelings, but when you’ve heard it pretty much your whole life, it’s the least compliment you’d ever want to receive, okay?
So what can you say when you’re standing or watching next to someone who has a disability that you find fascinating? Honestly, there isn’t the perfect solution to this, but my advice is you could smile at them. A simple smile to a person usually makes them happy, so if you notice something a person is doing that’s “inspirational” just give them a smile as a way to say “what you are doing is absolutely amazing!” This will make that person feel so much better, because you’re not focusing all of that unwanted attention on them for something that they had to learn to do at some point in their lives.
I hope you enjoyed this post and take my advice the next time you’re around a person with a disability. Please be respectful to one another, that’s all you really need to do! 🙂