In the age of social media, ‘inspiration’ is just a mere click away. Whether it be a YouTube compilation or a hashtag on Instagram, it’s ever been easier to find. Earlier this week, however, I was sent an article by a mother of a child I coached this past summer, asking my thoughts on an article about not wanting to be ‘inspiring.’
While it all can be very subjective, there’s truly nothing wrong with being an inspiring individual whether you’re intentionally trying to or not. For many, being deemed an inspiration can create a sense of singularity amongst the crowd and that’s not for everyone. It can make you feel like a charity case depending on the situation and it’s understandable how it can belittle someone to feel like they’re plainly giving something the old college try.
However, something I’ve echoed time and time again is that looks are always going to come and people will certainly perceive you in their own different ways. In a world of ten fingers, nine will always stand out. Perceptions will always be unique and that’s not always a negative thing.
There are many of us who strive not to let our difference affect our way of life. In my case for example, training in MMA and lifting weights with my adaptive equipment is a way for me to fight against the mould of the world’s view that disability is a constant struggle. I love the challenge. However I don’t go into those activities thinking ‘Oh, I sure hope I inspire someone while I’m doing this.’ Most of the time it comes along with it.
Why? Because it’s different. Ourselves going about our business in a world not designed for the limb-different human can and probably has set off a spark for somebody you don’t even know; like a passer-by in the street. Striving to do your best against odds, limb-different or not, always has a way of speaking to people. I’d like to think some positive reinforcement comes off the back of it. If people can take something from my attitude and adopt it into their own path, then that’s enough to me.
As the world changes, we see dynamics develop to socially accept newer topics. For instance, the Paralympics always flew under the radar and this year it received more mainstream attention than ever before. The athletes partaking in those Paralympics weren’t doing it to be inspirational. It just came along with it.
Whether or not you appreciate being called the i-word, you should try to focus on the sentiment behind it and think of what the person is really trying to tell you when they look at you. Sure, it sounds like one big stroke of the ego, but the person’s heart is in the right place and you’ll feel much warmer. I understand there a people who view their difference with a negative light and that’s a difficult battle to dissect and redirect. I only hope articles of this sort can help sway those minds.
The ‘Superhumans’ dominating in physical competitions that were once looked at as impossible for athletes with disabilities to perform in shows how far we’ve come and that inadvertently inspiring others through your actions isn’t bad at all. In my mind, I’m sharing the gift of what limb-difference truly is and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2016 is far more of an accepting place and we’re lucky to be in such an age of time. Going about every day life is normal to you, but what your character can portray is a different sight to somebody without a deficiency. After all, the difference between limb-different and able-bodied humans, ironically, is what brings us together.