Inspiration and my disability

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In my last post, I discussed why I don’t like being called “courageous” and in this one I wanted to address my love/hate relationship with being called an inspiration.

People often say to me, “You are so inspiring!” I used to hate it every time someone said this to me. Now I only hate it when certain people say it to me. But first, here’s when I love it.

I love being called an inspiration when the person who says it actually uses this inspiration to do something great with their life. For example, if someone sees me simply living my life and actually changes their life for the better, that’s great. I love it when people decide to take a positive step in their own lives and turn it into action. That’s when I know I am actually being inspiring. I think everyone is capable of being an inspiration to others, disabled or not, by taking on challenges and pursuing their dreams.

However, I don’t like being called an inspiration by someone who does nothing with it. I have been called an inspiration by several people in my life who then continue to tailspin out of control or live the same pathetic life they complain about all the time. I have sympathy for these people, but if I really was an inspiration to them, they’d do something with it to make their lives better. In these cases, I’d much prefer just to be told I have nice eyes — then I might believe their compliment. If I’m not actually inspiring you to do anything then how can you call me an inspiration?

Being an inspiration is a by-product of what I do. It’s not something that takes effort. If someone is actually inspired by me or my example, that is wonderful. If others with muscular dystrophy see that it’s possible to live a full and happy life, then that’s wonderful too. But really, I’m just doing what I do. The fact that I happen to be sharing my story doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else with muscular dystrophy. We all have our stories and we can all help each other out through words and actions.

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